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TO PHILIP SCHUYLER.
New Windsor, 14 May, 1781. DEAR SIR, I am glad to find, that you have received the necessary papers, and are entering upon the measures for intercepting the enemy's communications. I hope you will be enabled, by the assistance of the person proposed, if he is found sufficiently faithful and intelligent, to prosecute those measures to good effect; because I think the intelligence obtained through that channel
of Count d'Estaing, and commanded his vanguard when he forced the entrance of this harbour.” – Newport, May 8th.
The following is an extract from the instructions sent by the Minister of War to Count de Rochambeau, dated Versailles, March 7th.
“1. It is the intention of his Majesty, that you do not abandon Rhode Island, if the squadron destined to act in concert with you for its defence cannot retire to Boston without hazard, or before it shall be relieved from its defensive position at Rhode Island by a superior naval force.
“ 2. I will inform you, that, in the month of July or August, the superior naval force of which you have just received notice, will withdraw the squadron of M. de Barras from the harbour of Rhode Island ; and you will carefully reserve to yourself the knowledge of this arrangement, which may be accelerated.
“3. If, by unforeseen events, or any cause whatever, the army of Washington should be broken up and dispersed, it is the intention of the King, that, under these circumstances, you should decline acceding to any orders or requests of that general to penetrate into the interior of the continent; as in that case it would be prudent to reserve yourself, and to retire to the Antilles if possible, or to St. Domingo, according to the season.
« 4. If, on the contrary, the American army remains in its present state, and yet without being able to undertake any combined operation with the squadron; and if this latter should attempt any other enterprise, where the concurrence of a certain number of land forces would be required, the King leaves it in your power to furnish them, provided that the plan be concerted with the American general.
to act independently of the American army, you are aware that the naval forces of the King should concur in all operations, which are considered advantageous to the common cause.
“ 6. You are also awarc, that, as long as the King's troops occupy VOL. VIII.
may be depended upon, and will eventually be of very great consequence to us. Much, I apprehend, is to be dreaded from the predatory incursions of the enemy this campaign. To be apprized of their designs, and guarded against them at all points, as far as possible, will tend most essentially to disconcert their plans and protect our frontiers. As to the disposition of the Vermontese, I know nothing of it, but from report. At present they are at least a dead weight upon us. It is greatly to be regretted, that they are not by some means or other added to our scale, as their numbers, strength, and resources, would certainly aid us very considerably, and make the enemy extremely cautious how they advanced far in that quarter. The bulk of the people, I am persuaded, must be well affected. Should it be otherwise with any of the individuals, I ardently wish they may be detected in their villany, and brought to the punishment they deserve.*
Rhode Island, the transports destined to receive the troops are to be kept there ; when, on the contrary, the army under your command shall penetrate into the country, and the squadron abandons Rhode Island, this squadron will proceed to Boston, and take with it the transports, that have been retained.
“7. If, from the different causes mentioned, you should remain in your position at Rhode Island, and a superior naval force of the King should withdraw the squadron which is in that port, I give you notice, that the Count de Grasse has orders to leave with you two vessels to defend the port, and the transports necessary for your army.”
* The British had come up Lake Champlain from Canada, and threatened an invasion of the frontiers of New York in that direction. At the same time there seemed to be an understanding of some sort between the leaders in Vermont and the British officers, which excited a suspicion that the former were acting under disguise, and fostering an improper intercourse with the enemy. General Schuyler had said in his letter;
“ The conduct of the Vermontese is mysterious, and if the reports which generally prevail are well founded, their measures will certainly be attended with dangerous consequences to this and the other United States. I cannot however believe that the bulk of the people are in the secret. I rather conjecture that the person whom we suspected last year to have been in New York, and some others, are the only culpable ones,
I have been exceedingly distressed by the repeated accounts I have received of the sufferings of the troops on the frontier, and the terrible consequences which must ensue, unless they were speedily supplied. What gave a particular poignancy to the sting I felt on the occasion was my inability to afford relief. Such partial supplies as were on hand, to the very last barrel of meat, I ordered instantly to be sent, and have promised General Clinton what further succour the States will enable me to give. Major-General Heath has gone to the several eastern States, to enforce my pointed representations, to rouse them to more vigorous exertions, and to make arrangements for supplies during the
and that they amuse the people with making them believe that the whole of their negotiation with General Haldimand is merely calculated to give Congress and this State the alarm, that the independence of Vermont may be acknowledged.
“ I was anxious for ceding the jurisdiction beyond a twenty-mile line from Hudson's River, that their independence might be immediately acknowledged, and they made useful to the common cause ; but the governor put a stop to the business, ' as the affair was referred to the decision of Congress. I sincerely wish they would speedily decide, acknowledge them independent, and admit them into the union. If this was instantly done, the measures of their leaders would be brought to the test, and we should know if they had only tended to bring about their independence, or to connect themselves with the enemy. But, unless Congress are pushed to a decision, I believe they will do nothing in it; but who is to urge them, I know not. The governor cannot do it officially, and our delegates, I believe, will not, unless they believe that the decision will go against the Vermontese.” — MS. Letter, Saratoga, May 4th.
The old feuds between the inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants and New York had been kept alive by the refusal of New York to assent to the independence of the territory embracing those Grants, which had been recently called Vermont. The party dissensions in Congress had prevented a decision by that body, and in the mean time the people of Vermont set up a government of their own, and the leaders were determined not to submit on any terms to the domination of New York. In this state of mind the enemy tampered with them, and hoped for a time to bring them over. The attempt failed, and it appeared in the end, that there was never any serious intention on the part of the Vermontese to listen to the British proposals. The subject is explained in SPARKs's Life of Ethan Allen.
whole campaign. I cannot but hope this measure will be attended with success. I am, &c.
TO THE CHEVALIER PAUL JONES.
New Windsor, 15 May, 1781.
My partial acquaintance with either our naval or commercial affairs makes it altogether impossible for me to account for the unfortunate delay of those articles of military stores and clothing, which I have been informed have been so long provided in France. If I had had any particular reason to suspect you of being accessory to that delay, which I assure you was not the case, my suspicions would have been removed by the very full and satisfactory answers, which you have, to the best of my judgment, made to the questions proposed to you by the Board of Admiralty, and upon which that Board have in their report to Congress testified the high sense, which they entertain of your merits and services.
Whether our naval affairs have been well or ill conducted, it would be presumptuous in me to determine. Instances of bravery and good conduct in several of our officers have not been wanting. Delicacy forbids me to mention the particular one, which has attracted the admiration of all the world, and influenced a most illustrious monarch to confer a mark of his favor, that can be attained only by a long and honorable service, or by the performance of some brilliant action. That you may long enjoy the reputation you have so justly acquired, is the sincere wish of Sir, &c.*
* Through the misunderstanding of various agents in France, and other causes, there had been an extraordinary delay in sending out the military
TO EZRA STYLES, PRESIDENT OF YALE COLLEGE.
New Windsor, 15 May, 1781. Sir, For the honor conferred on me by the President and Fellows of the University of Yale College, by the degree of Doctor of Laws, my warmest thanks are of
stores for the American army. Paul Jones arrived at Philadelphia, on the 18th of February, in command of the Ariel, with a cargo of these stores from L'Orient. Congress immediately ordered an inquiry into the cause of the delay. This duty devolved on the Board of Admiralty, who proposed forty-seven distinct queries, which Paul Jones answered fully and promptly, and to the entire satisfaction of Congress, as to the part he had acted in the matter. He sent to Washington a copy of the queries and of his answers. The Board reported;
“That, ever since Captain Jones first became an officer in the navy of these States, he has shown an unremitted attention in planning and executing enterprises calculated to promote the essential interest of our glorious cause ; that in Europe, although in his expedition through the Irish channel in the Ranger he did not fully accomplish his purpose, yet he made the enemy feel, that it is in the power of a small squadron, under a brave and enterprising commander, to retaliate the conflagration of our defenceless towns, and took the Drake, a ship in number of guns and men superior to the Ranger, which she was sent out to capture ; that, by his reputation and address, he obtained the command of a squadron, under the flag and laws of these States, at the expense of our generous allies, and therewith captured the Serapis and Scarborough, spreading univer. sal alarm through the Island of Great Britain and its dependencies; that, in his expedition with that squadron, he made a number of prisoners, sufficient to redeem all our fellow-citizens in British dungeons, and es. tablished a cartel for their exchange; that he has made the flag of America respectable among the flags of other nations ; that, returning from Europe, he brought with him the esteem of the greatest and best friend of America, and has received from the illustrious monarch of France that reward of warlike virtue, which his subjects obtain by a long series of faithful services or uncommon merit.
“ The Board are of opinion, that the conduct of Captain John Paul Jones merits particular attention, and some distinguishing mark of approbation from the United States in Congress assembled.”
The allusion in the closing part of Washington's letter is to the capture of the Serapis by Paul Jones in the Bon Homme Richard. For his valor and intrepidity on that occasion, the King of France ordered a sword to be presented to him; and permission was asked of Congress to invest him with the military Order of Merit.