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Being better clothed and fed than in tne preceding winter, their situation was greatly ameliorated, and their sufferings were comparatively nothing.
At the close of the campaign of 1778, the local situation of the hostile armies did not greatly differ from that at the commencement of the campaign of 1770, except the possession of New York by the British.
This fact is impressively stated by General Wash INGton, in a letter written to a friend. “ It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years maneuvring, and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and the offending party in the beginning is now reduced to the use of the pickaxe and the spade for defence. The hand of providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more tran wicked that has not gratitude to acknowlodge his obligations."
Plan formed by Congress and the French Minister for the Invasion
of Canada and Nova-Scotia-General Washington's objections to it-Tardiness of the United States to prepare for the approaching Campaign-The exertions of the General-His Letter on the State of the Nation–The Remonstrance of Officers belonging to the Now-Jersey Brigade--Letters of the Commander in Chiet on the Subject-Expedition against the Indians under General Sullivan-Ple destroys their Towns-The American Army posted for the Defence of the High Lands on the North River, and for the protection of the Country against the Incursions of the British--Sir Henry Clinton moves up the Hudson, takes Possession of Stony and Verplank Points, and fortifies them-Arrangements made for assaulting these Posts-General Wayne carries Stony Point by Storm-Tlie Attack upon Verplank fails-Congress voto their thanks to General Washington and to the brave Troops employed in this service-They vote Genera! Wayne a MedalEvils of short Enlistments-Plan of the General's to remedy them -The Army in two divisions erect huts for Winter Quarters, The Troops suffer through the scarcity of Provisions--Colone! Wadsworth resigns bis Office--Confusion in the Commissary's Department-The Commander in Chief apportions supplies of Meat and Flour upon the Counties of New-jersey-The Winter excessively cold, and the Waters around New-York frozen over -Expedition to Staten Island fails.
1779. The emancipation of Canada had ever been ån important object with Congress. By its incorporation with the revolted colonies, the boundaries of the United States would be greatly enlarged, and the coun. try delivered from the destruction and terrour of war from the northern tribes of Indians.
In the winter of 1777–8, an expedition for this purpose had been settled with the Marquis de la Fayette, and in its prosecution he repaired to Ticonderoga. Wanting then the means to accomplish the design, it was relinquished. During the succeeding autunn the scheme was resumed under the auspices of the French Minister. The plan embraced the conquest of Canada, Nova Scotia, and all their dependencies. It was to be carried into effect by the joint operations of distinct detachments of Americans, acting in different points, and all co-operating with a French fleet and army on the river Saint Lawrence.
'This lofty scheme of military operations had been adopted in Congress without consulting with the Commander in Chief, or any American officer. It was to be communicated to the French Court by the Marquis de la Fayette, and his influence, with that of the French Minister, was to be employed to induce his government to adopt their part of the expedition. In October the plan vas communicated to General WASHINGTON, he was desired to give Congress liis opinion upon it, and to enclose it with his comments to the Marquis.
The General had already revolved in his mind an expedition against the British posts in Upper Canada, with the intention to be prosecuted the next season, on the contingence that the British army should be withdrawn from the United State3. Struck with the extravagance of the plan of C.
instead of complying with their requisition, he wrote to them, stating in strong terms his objections to the scheme. He mentioned the impolicy of entering into any engagements with the Court of France to execute a combined system of operation, without a moral certainty of being able to execute the part assigned to America.
It was, the General observed, morally certain in his mind, that if the English should maintain their posts on the continent, it would be impracticable to furnishthe men, or the necessary stores and provisions for the expedition. “If I rightly understand the plan,” he remarked, “it requires for its execution, twelve thousand and six hundred rank and file. Besides these, to open passages through a wilderness, for the march of the several bodies of troops, to provide the means of long and difficult tran rtation by land and water, to establish posts of communication for the security of our convoys, to build and man vessels of force necessary for acquiring a superiority on the lakes; these
and many other purposes peculiar to t).ese enterprises, will require a much larger proportion of artificers, and persons to be employed in manual and laborious offices than are usual in military operations.” The aggregate number, he obga-vod, requisite for the contemplated expedition, added so the force necessary to be kept in the field to restrain depredation from the British posts at New York, would make nearly double the men neeossary, to any number, which with all their efforts, the United States were ever yet able to raise.
The experience of the General taught him, that it would be as difficult to furnish the necessary supplies of provisions as to raise the men. “ The scene of our operations has hitherto been in the heart of the country, furnishing our resources, which of course facilitat. ed the drawing them out. We shall then be carrying on the war at an immense distance, in a country wild and uncultivated, incapable of affording any aid, and great part of it hostile. We cannot, in this case, depend on temporary and occasional suppiies, as we have been accustomed; but must have ample magazines laid up before-hand. The labour and expense in forming these, and transporting the necessary stores of every kind for the use of the troops, will be increased to a degree that can be more easily conceived than described The transportation must be a great part of the way through deserts affording no other forage than herb. age; and from this circumstance our principal provi. sions, of the flesh kind, must be saited, which wonld greatly increase tha dificulty, both of providing and transporting.” Supplies upon this scale, he conceived, greatly exceeded the resources of the country, and in policy and honour, Congress could not promise to fur. nish them.
Serious doubts restcd upon the mind of the General, whether France would execute the part of the Canada expedition assigned to her. The superiority of the British fleet was evident Tho Court of London would be made acquainted with the scheme, and a superiour British feet might prevent the French squadron, de tached on this service, from entering the river St Lawrence, or destroy it after its entrance, or the Bri tish garrisons in Canada might be reinforced, and ren dered superiour to the assailing armament.
In an expedition consisting of several distinct parts, General Washington thought it unreasonable to expect that exact co-operation among the different detachments which would be necessary for mutual support ; of consequence, the divisions might be defeated in detail, and after all the expense, the expedition miscarry. The consequences of a failure, which were much to be deprecated, would be the misapplication of the French force; the ruin of the detachments employed in the expedition, and jealousy and disafíection between France and the United States.
The letter of the Commander in Chief, Congress referred to a Committee. In their report, this Committee admit his objections to be weighty, but still advise to the prosecution of the plan. Congress accepted the report, and again requested the Genoral to write fully on the subject to the Marquis, and to Dr. Franklin, then the American Minister at the Court of Versailles. Congress probably felt themselves already pledged by their conversation with the Marquis and the French Minister, and possibly they thought that measures had already been adopted in France to carry the plan into execution.
General WASHINGTON was greatly perplexed by the perseverance of Congress in this measure. All his objections to the plan remained in full force, and he found himself called upon to use his influence to bring the French government to adopt a scheme, of which ho himself wholly disapproved, and to promise the co-operation of the American arms in a manner that he thought impracticable. To this request he thus replied :