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he was a Yankee, averred that he had not believed it possible for any human being but a Scotchman to be so kind and generous.
Indeed the benevolence of the general was one day put to somewhat of a delicate test. The patient, when his recovery was considered doubtful, solicited that a friend in the British army at New Brunswick might be permitted to come and aid him in the preparation of his will. Full sorely perplexed was General Putnam by his desire on the one hand to gratify the wishes of his prisoner, and a natural reluctance on the other to permit the enemy to spy out the nakedness of his camp. His good nature at length prevailed, but not at the expense of his discretion, and a flag of truce was dispatched with orders not to return with the captain's friend until after dark.
By the time of his arrival the lights were displayed in all the apartments of College Hall and in all the vacant houses in the town; the army, which then consisted of fifty effective men, was marched about with remarkable celerity, sometimes in close column, and sometimes in detachments, with unusual pomp and circumstance, around the quarters of the captain. It was subsequently ascertained, as we are assured by Colonel Humphreys, that the force of Putnam was computed by the framer of the will, on his return to the British camp, to consist, at the lowest estimate, of 5,000 men.
During his command at Princeton General Putnam was employed, with activity and much success, in affording protection to the persons in his neighborhood who remained faithful to the American cause. They were exposed to great danger from the violent incursions of the Loyalists; and constant vigilance was required in order to guard against the depredations of the latter. Through
the whole winter there raged a war of skirmishes. On the 17th of February (1777), Colonel Nielson, with a party of 150 militia, was sent by General Putnam to surprise a small corps of Loyalists, who were fortifying themselves at Lawrence's Neck. They were of the corps of Cortlandt Skinner, of New Jersey, a brigadier-general of provincials in the British service. We know not how to relate the result of this affair more briefly than it is given in the following extract from a letter addressed by Putnam to the Council of Safety of Pennsylvania on the day after it occurred:
“ Yesterday evening Colonel Nielson, with a hundred and fifty men at Lawrence's Neck, attacked sixty men of Cortlandt Skinner's brigade, commanded by the enemy's renowned land pilot, Richard Stockton, and took the whole prisoners, among them the major, a captain, and three subalterns, with seventy stand of arms. Fifty of the Bedford, Pa., riflemen behaved like veterans."
On another occasion he detached Major Smith with a few riflemen against a foraging party of the enemy, and followed him with the rest of his forces; but before he came up, the party had been captured by the riflemen. These and other similar incidents may appear individually as of little moment; but before the close of the winter, General Putnam had thus taken nearly a thousand prisoners, and had accomplished the more important object of keeping the disaffected in continual awe.
In their operations for completely reclaiming the inhabitants of the Jerseys from their recent disaffection to the cause of liberty, Washington, Putnam, and the other American commanders were greatly aided by the atrocities of the British and Hessian troops against the unoffending people. * * * * * * * * * * * *
The whole country was now become hostile to the British army. Sufferers of all parties rose as one man to revenge their personal injuries and particular oppressions, and were the most bitter and determined enemies. They who were incapable of bearing arms acted as spies and kept a continual watch, so that not the slightest motion could be made by the Royalists without its being discovered before it could produce the intended effect.
This hostile spirit was encouraged by a proclamation of Washington (January 25, 1777), which commanded every person having subscribed the declaration of fidelity to Great Britain, taken the oaths of allegiance, and accepted protections and certificates from the commissioners, to deliver up the same and take the oath of allegiance to the United States of America. It granted, however, full liberty to such as should prefer the interest and protection of Great Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country forthwith to withdraw themselves and their families within the enemy's lines. But it declared that all who neglected or refused to comply with the order within thirty days from the date would be deemed adherents to the King of Great Britain, and treated as common enemies to the American States.
Washington sent forth this proclamation (January 25, 1777) from his headquarters at Morristown, situated among hills of difficult access, where he had a fine country in his rear from which he could easily draw supplies, and was able to retreat across the Delaware if needful. Giving his troops little repose, he overran both East and West Jersey, spread his army over the Raritan, and penetrated into the county of Essex, where he made himself master of the coast opposite Staten Island. With a greatly inferior army, by judicious movements, he wrested from the British almost all their conquests in the Jerseys. Brunswick and Amboy were the only posts which remained in their hands, and even in these they were not a little harassed and straightened. The American detachments were in a state of unwearied activity, frequently surprising and cutting off the British advanced guards, keeping them in constant alarm, and melting down their numbers by a desultory and destructive warfare.
Meantime the victories at Trenton and Princeton, followed by the expulsion of the enemy from nearly every part of New Jersey, had added greatly to Washington's fame. Achievements so astonishing, says Botha, acquired an immense glory for the captain-general of the United States. All nations were surprised by the glory of the Americans; all equally admired and applauded the prudence, the constancy, and the noble intrepidity of General Washington. A unanimous voice pronounced him the savior of his country; all extolled him as equal to the most celebrated commanders of antiquity; all proclaimed him the Fabius of America. His name was in the mouth of all; he was celebrated by the pens of the most distinguished writers. The most illustrious personages of Europe lavished upon him their praises and their congratulations. The American general, therefore, wanted neither a cause full of grandeur to defend, nor occasion for the acquisition of glory, nor genius to avail himself of it, nor the renown due to his triumphs, nor an entire generation of men perfectly well disposed to render him homage.
MONG the many perplexing subjects which claimed
the attention of Washington during the winter
(1776-1777), while he was holding his headquarters among the hills at Morristown, none gave him more annoyance than that of the treatment of American prisoners in the hands of the enemy. Among the civilized nations of modern times prisoners of war are treated with humanity and principles are established on which they are exchanged. The British officers, however, considered the Americans as rebels deserving condign punishment and not entitled to the sympathetic treatment commonly shown to the captive soldiers of independent nations. They seem to have thought that the Americans would never be able, or would never dare, to retaliate. Hence their prisoners were most infamously treated. Against this the Americans remonstrated, and, on finding their remonstrances disregarded, they adopted a system of retaliation which occasioned much unmerited suffering to individuals. Col. Ethan Allen, who had been defeated and made prisoner in a bold but rash attempt against Montreal, was put in irons and sent to England as a traitor. In retaliation, General Prescott, who had been taken at the mouth of the Sorel, was put in close confinement for the avowed purpose of subjecting him to the same fate which Colonel