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King's Bridge by nine o'clock the same evening, and boasted that, in this enterprise, they had sustained no other loss than two killed and twenty-three wounded. Of the prisoners many were doubtless farmers and farmers’ sons, who had turned out in defence of their homes, and were now to be transferred to the horrors of the jail and sugar-house in New York. We give this affair as a specimen of the petite guerre carried on in the southern part of Westchester County; the NEUTRAL GROUND, as it was called, but subjected from its vicinity to the city, to be foraged by the royal forces, and plundered and insulted by refugees and tories. No part of the Union was more harried and trampled down by friend and foe, during the Revolution, than this debatable region and the Jerseys.
C H A P T E R II.
ARNOLD IN COMMAND OF PHILADELPIIIA—UNPOPULAR MEASURES-ARNOLD'S STYLE OF LIVING—HIS SCHEMES AND 8PECULATIONS-HIS COLLISIONS WITH THE EXECUTIVE COUNCIL–HIS LAND PROJECTCHARGES SENT AGAINST HIM TO CONGRESS—HIS ADDRESS TO THE PUBLIC—CHARGES REFERRED TO A COURT-MARTIAL–HIS MARRIAGE —WEEDIOT OF THE COURT-MARTIAL–ARNOLD REPRIMANDED–OBTAINS LEAVE OF ABSENCE FROM THE ARMY.
THE most irksome duty that Washington had to perform during this winter's encampment at Morristown, regarded General Arnold and his military government of Philadelphia in 1778. To explain it requires a glance back to that period. At the time of entering upon this command, Arnold's accounts with government were yet unsettled; the committee appointed by Congress, at his own request, to examine them, having considered some of his charges dubious, and others exorbitant. Washington, however, still looked upon him with favor, and, but a month previously, had presented him with a pair of epaulettes and a sword knot, “as a testimony of his sincere regard and approbation.” The command of Philadelphia, at this time, was a delicate and difficult one, and required to be exercised with extreme circumspection. The boundaries between the powers vested in the military commander, and those inherent in the State government, were ill defined. Disaffection to the American cause prevailed both among the permanent and casual residents, and re quired to be held in check with firmness but toleration. By a resolve of Congress, no goods, wares, or merchandise were to be removed, transferred, or sold, until the ownership of them could be ascertained by a joint committee of Congress and of the Council of Pennsylvania; any public stores belonging to the enemy were to be seized and converted to the use of the army. Washington, in his letter of instructions, left it to Arnold's discretion to adopt such measures as should appear to him most effectual and least offensive in executing this resolve of Congress, in which he was to be aided by an assistant quartermaster-general, subject to his directions. “You will take every prudent step in your power,” writes Washington, “to preserve tranquillity and order in the city and give security to individuals of every class and description, restraining, as far as possible, till the restoration of civil government, every species of persecution, insult or abuse, either from the soldiery to the inhabitants, or among each other.” One of Arnold's first measures was to issue a proclamation enforcing the resolve of Congress. In so doing, he was countenanced by leading personages of Philadelphia, and the proclamation was drafted by General Joseph Reed. The measure excited great dissatisfaction, and circumstances attending the enforcement of it gave rise to scandal. Former instances of a mercenary spirit made Arnold liable to suspicions, and
1780.] osTENTATIOUS PRODIGALITY OF ARNOLD. 13
it was alleged that, while by the proclamation he shut up the stores and shops so that even the officers of the army could not procure necessary articles of merchandise, he was privately making large purchases for his own enrichment. His style of living gave point to this scandal. He occupied one of the finest houses in the city ; set up a splendid establishment ; had his carriage and four horses and a train of domestics; gave expensive entertainments, and indulged in a luxury and parade, which were condemned as little befitting a republican general; especially one whose accounts with government were yet unsettled, and who had imputations of mercenary rapacity still hanging over him. Ostentatious prodigality, in fact, was Arnold's besetting sin. To cope with his overwhelming expenses he engaged in various speculations, more befitting the trafficking habits of his early life than his present elevated position. Nay, he availed himself of that position to aid his speculations, and sometimes made temporary use of the public moneys passing through his hands. In his impatience to be rich, he at one time thought of taking command of a privateer, and making lucrative captures at sea. In the exercise of his military functions, he had become involved in disputes with the president (Wharton), and executive council of Pennsylvania, and by his conduct, which was deemed arbitrary and arrogant, had drawn upon himself the hostility of that body, which became stern and unsparing censors of his conduct. He had not been many weeks in Philadelphia before he became attached to one of its reigning belles, Miss Margaret Shippen, daughter of Mr Edward Shippen, in after years chief justice of Pennsylvania. Her family were not considered well affected to the American cause ; the young lady herself, during the occupation of the city by the enemy, had been a “toast” among the British officers, and selected as one of the beauties of the Mischianza. Arnold paid his addresses in an open and honorable style, first obtaining by letter the sanction of the father. Party feeling at that time ran high in Philadelphia on local subjects connected with the change of the State government. Arnold's connection with the Shippen family, increased his disfavor with the president and executive council, who were whigs to a man; and it was sneeringly observed that, “he had courted the loyalists from the start.” General Joseph Reed, at that time one of the executive committee, observes in a letter to General Greene, “will you not think it extraordinary that General Arnold made a public entertainment the night before last, of which, not only common tory ladies, but the wives and daughters of persons proscribed by the State, and now with the enemy at New York, formed a very considerable number? The fact is literally true.” Regarded from a different point of view, this conduct might have been attributed to the courtesy of a gallant soldier; who scorned to carry the animosity of the field into the drawing-room ; or to proscribe and persecute the wives and daughters of political exiles. In the beginning of December, General Reed became president of the executive council of Pennsylvania, and under his administration the ripening hostility