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the young republic, and he was determined to extort from England the first acknowledgment of independence by compelling her to recognize the Americans as belligerents and not rebels. Washington cared as little for vain shows as any man who ever lived, but he had the highest sense of personal dignity, and of the dignity of his cause and country. Neither should be allowed to suffer in his hands. He appreciated the effect on mankind of forms and titles, and with unerring judgment he insisted on what he knew to be of real value. It is one of the earliest examples of the dignity and good taste which were of such inestimable value to his country
He had abundant occasion also for the employment of these same qualities, coupled with unwearied patience and tact, in dealing with his own
The present army was drawn from a wider range than that which had taken Boston, and sectional jealousies and disputes, growing every day more hateful to the commander-in-chief, sprang up rankly. The men of Maryland thought those of Connecticut ploughboys; the latter held the former to be fops and dandies. These and a hundred other disputes buzzed and whirled about Washington, stirring his strong temper, and exercising his sternest self-control in the untiring effort to suppress them and put them to death. “It requires,” John Adams truly said, “more serenity of temper, a deeper understanding, and more courage than fell to the lot of Marlborough, to ride in
this whirlwind.” Fortunately these qualities were all there, and with them an honesty of purpose and an unbending directness of character to which Anne's great general was a stranger.
Meantime, while the internal difficulties were slowly diminished, the forces of the enemy rapidly increased. First it became evident that attacks were not feasible. Then the question changed to a mere choice of defences. Even as to this there was great and harassing doubt, for the enemy, having command of the water, could concentrate and attack at any point they pleased. Moreover, the British had thirty thousand of the best disciplined and best equipped troops that Europe could furnish, while Washington had some twenty thousand men, one fourth of whom were unfit for duty, and with the remaining three fourths, raw recruits for the most part, he was obliged to defend an extended line of posts, without cavalry, and with no means for rapid concentration. Had he been governed solely by military considerations he would have removed the inhabitants, burned New York, and drawing his forces together would have taken up a secure post of observation. To have destroyed the town, however, not only would have frightened the timid and the doubters, and driven them over to the Tories, but would have dispir. ited the patriots not yet alive to the exigencies of war, and deeply injured the American cause. That Washington well understood the need of such action is clear, both from the current rumors that
the town was to be burned, and from his expressed desire to remove the women and children from New York. But political considerations overruled the military necessity, and he spared the town. It was bad enough to be thus hampered, but he was even more fettered in other ways, for he could not even concentrate his forces and withdraw to the Highlands without a battle, as he was obliged to fight in order to sustain public feeling, and thus he was driven on to almost sure defeat.
Everything, too, as the day of battle drew near, seemed to make against him. On August 22d the enemy began to land on Long Island, where Greene had drawn a strong live of redoubts behind the village of Brooklyn, to defend the heights which commanded New York, and had made every arrangement to protect the three roads through the wooded hills, about a mile from the intrenchments. Most unfortunately, and just at the critical moment, Greene was taken down with a raging fever, so that when Washington came over on the 24th he found much confusion in the camps, which he repressed as best he could, and then prepared for the attack. Greene's illness, however, had caused some oversights which were unknown to the commanderin-chief, and which, as it turned out, proved fatal.
After indecisive skirmishing for two or three days, the British started early on the morning of the 26th. They had nine thousand men and were well informed as to the country. Advancing through wood paths and lanes, they came round to the
left flank of the Americans. One of the roads through the hills was unguarded, the others feebly protected. The result is soon told. The Americans, out-generalled and out-flanked, were taken by surprise and surrounded, Sullivan and his divi. sion were cut off, and then Lord Stirling. There was some desperate fighting, and the Americans showed plenty of courage, but only a few forced their way
out. Most of them were killed or taken prisoners, the total loss out of some five thousand men reaching as high as two thousand.
From the redoubts, whither he had come at the sound of the firing, Washington watched the slaughter and disaster in grim silence. He saw the British troops, flushed with victory, press on to the very edge of his works and then withdraw in obedience to command. The British generals had their prey so surely, as they believed, that they mercifully decided not to waste life unnecessarily by storming the works in the first glow of success. So they waited during that night and the two following days, while Washington strengthened his intrenchments, brought over reinforcements, and prepared for the worst. On the 29th it became apparent that there was a movement in the fleet, and that arrangements were being made to take the Americans in the rear and wholly cut them off. It was a pretty plan, but the British overlooked the fact that while they were lingering, summing up their victory, and counting the future as assured, there was a silent watchful man on the other side
of the redoubts who for forty-eight hours never left the lines, and who with a great capacity for stubborn fighting could move, when the stress came, with the celerity and stealth of a panther.
Washington swiftly determined to retreat. It was a desperate undertaking, and a lesser man would have hesitated and been lost. He had to transport nine thousand men across a strait of strong tides and currents, and three quarters of a mile in width. It was necessary to collect the boats from a distance, and do it all within sight and bearing of the enemy. The boats were obtained, a thick mist settled down on sea and land, the water was calm, and as the night wore away, the entire army with all its arms and baggage was carried over, Washington leaving in the last boat. At daybreak the British awoke, but it was too late. They had fought a successful battle, they had had the American
and now all was The victory had melted away, and, as a grand result, they had a few hundred prisoners, a stray boat with three camp-followers, and the deserted works in which they stood. To make such a retreat as this was a feat of arms as great as most victories, and in it we see, perhaps as plainly as anywhere, the nerve and quickness of the man who conducted it. It is true it was the only chance of salvation, but the great man is he who is entirely master of his opportunity, even if he bave but one.
The outlook, nevertheless, was, as Washington