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CHAPTER VII.
"malice Domestic, And Foreign Levy."

After the "two lucky strokes at Trenton and Princeton," as he himself called them, Washington took up a strong position at Morristown and waited. His plan was to hold the enemy in check, and to delay all operations until spring. It is easy enough now to state his purpose, and it looks very simple, but it was a grim task to carry it out through the bleak winter days of 1777. The Jersey farmers, spurred by the sufferings inflicted upon them by the British troops, had turned out at last in deference to Washington's appeals, after the victories of Trenton and Princeton, had harassed and cut off outlying parties, and had thus straitened the movements of the enemy. But the main army of the colonies, on which all depended, was in a pitiable state. It shifted its character almost from day to day. The curse of short enlistments, so denounced by Washington, made itself felt now with frightful effect. With the new year most of the continental troops departed, while others to replace them came in very slowly, and recruiting dragged most wearisomely. Washington was thus obliged, with temporary reinforcements of raw militia, to keep up appearances; and no commander ever struggled with a more trying task. At times it looked as if the whole army would actually disappear, and more than once Washington expected that the week's or the month's end would find him with not more than five hundred men. At the beginning of March he had about four thousand men, a few weeks later only three thousand raw troops, ill-fed, ill-clad, ill-shod, ill-armed, and almost unpaid. Over against him was Howe, with eleven thousand men in the field, and still more in the city of New York, well disciplined and equipped, well-armed, well-fed, and furnished with every needful supply. The contrast is absolutely grotesque, and yet the force of one man's genius and will was such that this excellent British army was hemmed in and kept in harmless quiet by their ragged opponents. Washington's plan, from the first, was to keep the field at all hazards, and literally at all hazards did he do so. Right and left his letters went, day after day, calling with pathetic but dignified earnestness for men and supplies. In one of these epistles, to Governor Cooke of Rhode Island, written in January, to remonstrate against raising troops for the State only, he set forth his intentions in a few words. "You must be sensible," he said, "that the season is fast approaching when a new campaign will open; nay, the former is not yet closed; nor do I intend it shall be, unless the enemy quits the Jerseys." To keep fighting all the time, and never let the fire of active resistance flicker or die out, was Washington's theory of the way to maintain his own side and beat the enemy. If he could not fight big battles, he would fight small ones; if he could not fight little battles, he would raid and skirmish and surprise; but fighting of some sort he would have, while the enemy attempted to spread over a State and hold possession of it. We can see the obstacles now, but we can only wonder how they were sufficiently overcome to allow anything to be done. Moreover, besides the purely physical difficulties in the lack of men, money, and supplies, there were others of a political and personal kind, which were even more wearing and trying, but which, nevertheless, had to be dealt with also, in some fashion. In order to sustain the courage of the people Washington was obliged to give out, and to allow it to be supposed, that he had more men than was really the case, and so Congress and various wise and well-meaning persons grumbled because he did not do more and fight more battles. He never deceived Congress, but they either could not or would not understand the actual situation. In March he wrote to Robert Morris: "Nor is it in my power to make Congress fully sensible of the real situation of our affairs, and that it is with difficulty, if I may use the expression, that I can by every means in my power keep the life and soul of this army together. In a word, when they are at a distance, they think it is but to say, Presto, begone, and everything is done. They seem not to have any conception of the difficulty and perplexity attending those who are to execute." It was so easy to see what they would like to have done, and so simple to pass a resolve to that effect, that Congress never could appreciate the reality of the difficulty and the danger until the hand of the enemy was almost at their throats. They were not even content with delay and neglect, but interfered actively at times, as in the matter of the exchange of prisoners, where they made unending trouble for Washington, and showed themselves unable to learn or to keep their hands off after any amount of instruction. In January Washington issued a proclamation requiring those inhabitants who had subscribed to Howe's declaration to come in within thirty days and take the oath of allegiance to the United States. If they failed to do so they were to be treated as enemies. The measure was an eminently proper one, and the proclamation was couched in the most moderate language. It was impossible to permit a large class of persons to exist on the theory that they were peaceful American citizens and also subjects of King George. The results of such conduct were in every way perilous and intolerable, and Washington was determined that he would divide the sheep from the goats, and know whom he was defending and whom attacking. Yet for this wise and necessary action he was called in question in Congress and accused of violating civil rights and the resolves of Congress. Nothing was actually done about it, but such an incident shows from a single point the infinite tact and resolution required in waging war under a government whose members were unable to comprehend what was meant, and who could not see that until they had beaten England it was hardly worth while to worry about civil rights, which in case of defeat would speedily cease to exist altogether. Another fertile source of trouble arose from questions of rank. Members of Congress, in making promotions and appointments, were more apt to consider local claims than military merit, and they also allowed their own personal prejudices to affect their action in this respect far too much. Thence arose endless heart-burnings and jealousies, followed by resignations and the loss of valuable officers. Congress, having made the appointments, would go cheerfully about its business, while the swarm of grievances thus let loose would come buzzing about the devoted head of the commander-in-chief. He could not get away, but was compelled to quiet rivalries, allay irritated feelings, and ride the storm as best he might. It was all done, however, in one way or another: by personal appeals, and by letters full of dignity, patriotism, and patience, which are very impressive and full of meaning for students of character, even in this day and generation. Then again, not content with snarling up our native appointments, Congress complicated matters still more dangerously by its treatment of foreigners. The members of Congress were colonists,

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