« ZurückWeiter »
CHAP. V. Washington was under the necessity of counter1780. manding the orders under which they were
proceeding to camp, and of directing them to return home, although he felt a strong con. viction that the delays attendant on bringing them again into the field, would greatly procrastinate the execution of the plans which had been formed.
Such was the state of preparation for the campaign, when intelligence was brought by the Alliance frigate, that the second division of the fleet designed for the service of the United States, when ready to sail, had been stopped by a British squadron, which completely blockaded the port of Brest. The opinion, however, prevailed, that the combined fleets of France and Spain would be able to raise the blockade; and should this expectation be disappointed, great confidence was placed in the success of the application which had been made to the count De Guichen.
General Washington, therefore, under every discouraging circumstance, still adhered steadily to his purpose respecting New York; and still continued to strain every nerve to provide the means for its execution. The details of the plan of co-operation continued to be the subject of a correspondence with the count De Rochambeau and the chevalier De Ternay; and at length, for complete explanation on some minute points on which a perfect coin
cidence of opinion had not taken place between CHAP. V. them; for the purpose also of concerting fur. 1780. ther eventual measures, and even of laying the foundation for the next campaign; a personal interview was agreed upon, to take place on the 21st of September at Hartford in Connecticut.
In this interview, ulterior eventual measures, as well as an explicit and detailed arrangement for acting against New York, were the subjects of consideration.
No one of the plans, however, then con- Enterprise certed for the present campaign could be put New York in execution. All, except an invasion of Canada, depended on a superiority at sea, which was soon rendered almost hopeless by the cer. tain information that the count De Guichen, instead of coming to the American coast, had sailed for Europe.
This circumstance not only disappointed Nava! every hope of such a naval re-enforcement as of the would give the chevalier De Ternay the com. mand of the ocean, but enabled the British still further to increase their superiority.
When the count De Guichen sailed for Europe, he took under his protection a fleet of merchantmen returning from the West Indies to France. Believing that he designed to convoy them only to a latitude out of the reach of the cruisers about the islands, and then to return for the purpose of executing the
superiority of the British.
CHAP. v. designs against New York, admiral Rodney
1780. sailed for America, where he arrived late in Plans for the September with eleven ships of the line and abandoned. four frigates. This re-enforcement not only
disconcerted all the plans of the allies, and ter. minated the sanguine hopes which had been formed at the opening of the campaign, but put it in the power of the British to project in security further expeditions to the south,
It may well be supposed that the com. mander in chief did not relinquish without infinite chagrin, the sanguine expectations he had formed of making the present summer de. cisive. Never before had he indulged so strongly the hope of happily terminating the war. “We are now” he writes in a private letter to an intimate friend, “ drawing to a close, an inactive campaign, the beginning of which appeared pregnant with events of a very favourable complexion. I hoped, but I hoped in vain, that a prospect was opening which would enable me to fix a period to my military pursuits, and restore me to domestic life. The favourable disposition of Spain, the promised succour from France, the combined force in the West Indies, the declaration of Russia (acceded to by other powers of Europe, humili. ating the naval pride and power of Great Bri. tain) the superiority of France and Spain by sea, in Europe, the Irish claims and English disturbances; formed, in the aggregate, an
opinion in my breast (which is not very sus. CHAP. V. ceptible of peaceful dreams) that the hour of 1780. deliverance was not far distant; for that, how. ever unwilling Great Britain might be to yield the point, it would not be in her power to continue the contest. But alas! these pros. pects, flattering as they were, have proved delusory; and I see nothing before us but ac. cumulating distress. We have been half of our time without provisions, and are likely to continue so. We have no magazines, nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients until we can live no longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history of false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system and economy. It is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so. Our case is not desperate, if virtue exists in the people, and there is wisdom among our rulers. But to suppose that this great revolution can be ac. complished by a temporary army; that this army will be subsisted by state supplies; and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants; is in my opinion absurd, and as unreasonable as to expect an inversion of the order of nature to accommodate itself to our views. If it were necessary, it could be easily proved to any person of a moderate understanding, that an annual army, or any army raised on the spur of the occasion, besides being unqualified for the end designed, is, in various ways which
CHAP. V. could be enumerated, ten times more expensive 1780. than a permanent body of men, under good
organization and military discipline; which never was, nor never will be the case with new troops. A thousand arguments resulting from experience and the nature of things might also be adduced toprove, that the army, if it is to depend upon state supplies, must disband or starve; and that taxation alone (especially at this late hour) cannot furnish the means to carry on the war. Is it not time to retract from error, and benefit by experience? or do we want further proof of the ruinous system we have pertinaciously adhered to ?”