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himself, who, although sluggish in all things, still had a keen eye for his own advancement. He showed plainly how much his head had been turned by the victory at Saratoga when he failed to inform Washington of the fact, and when he afterward delayed sending back troops until he was driven to it by the determined energy of Hamilton, who was sent to bring him to reason. Next in importance to Gates was Thomas Mifflin, an ardent patriot, but a rather light-headed person, who espoused the opposition to Washington for causes now somewhat misty, but among which personal vanity played no inconsiderable part. About these two leaders gathered a certain number of inferior officers of no great moment then or since. The active and moving spirit in the party, however, was one Conway, an Irish adventurer, who made himself so prominent that the whole affair passed into history bearing his name, and the “Conway cabal' has obtained an enduring notoriety which its hero never acquired by any public services. Conway was one of the foreign officers who had gained the favor of Congress and held the rank of brigadier-general, but this by no means filled the measure of his pretensions, and when De Kalb was made a major-general Conway immediately started forward with claims to the same rank. He received strong support from the factious opposition, and there was so much stir that Washington sharply interfered, for to his general objection to these lavish gifts of excessive rank was added an especial distrust in this particular case. In his calm way he had evidently observed Conway, and with his unerring judgment of men had found him wanting. “I may add,” he wrote to Lee, “and I think with truth, that it will give a fatal blow to the existence of the army. Upon so interesting a subject I must speak plainly. General Conway's merit then as an officer, and his importance in this army, exist more in his own imagination than in reality.” This plain talk soon reached Conway, drove him at once into furious opposition, and caused him to impart to the faction a cohesion and vigor which they had before lacked. Circumstances favored them. The victory at Saratoga gave them something tangible to go upon, and the first move was made when Gates failed to inform Washington of the surrender, and then held back the troops sent for so urgently by the commanderin-chief, who had sacrificed so much from his own army to secure that of the north. At this very moment, indeed, when Washington was calling for troops, he was struggling with the utmost tenacity to hold control of the Delaware. He made every arrangement possible to maintain the forts, and the first assaults upon them were repulsed with great slaughter, the British in the attack on Fort Mercer losing Count Donop, the leader, and four hundred men. Then came a breathing space, and then the attacks were renewed, supported by vessels, and both forts were abandoned after the works had been levelled to the ground by the enemy's fire. Meanwhile Hamilton, sent to the north, had done his work; Gates had been stirred, and Putnam, well-meaning but stubborn, had been sharply brought to his bearings. Reinforcements had come, and Washington meditated an attack on Philadelphia. There was a good deal of clamor for something brilliant and decisive, for both the army and the public were a little dizzy from the effects of Saratoga, and with sublime blindness to different conditions, could not see why the same performance should not be repeated to order everywhere else. To oppose this wish was trying, doubly trying to a man eager to fight, and with his full share of the very human desire to be as successful as his neighbor. It required great nerve to say No; but Washington did not lack that quality, and as general and statesman he reconnoitred the enemy's works, weighed the chances, said No decisively, and took up an almost impregnable position at White Marsh. Thereupon Howe announced that he would drive Washington beyond the mountains, and on December 4th he approached the American lines with this highly proper purpose. There was some skirmishing along the foot of the hills of an unimportant character, and on the third day Washington, in high spirits, thought an attack would be made, and rode among the soldiers directing and encouraging them. Nothing came of it, however, but more skirmishing, and the next day Howe marched back to Philadelphia. He had offered battle in all ways, he had invited action; but again, with the same pressure both from his own spirit and from public opinion, Washington had said No. On his own ground he was more than ready to fight Howe, but despite the terrible temptation he would fight on no other. Not the least brilliant exploit of Wellington was the retreat to the shrewdly prepared lines of Torres Vedras, and one of the most difficult successes of Washington was his double refusal to fight as the year 1777 drew to a close. Like most right and wise things, Washington's action looks now, a century later, so plainly sensible that it is hard to imagine how any one could have questioned it; and one cannot, without a great effort, realize the awful strain upon will and temper involved in thus refusing battle. If the proposed attack on Philadelphia had failed, or if our army had come down from the hills and been beaten in the fields below, no American army would have remained. The army of the north, of which men were talking so proudly, had done its work and dispersed. The fate of the Revolution rested where it had been from the beginning, with Washington and his soldiers. Drive them beyond the mountains and there was no other army to fall back upon. On their existence everything hinged, and when Howe got back to Philadelphia, there they were still existent, still coherent, hovering on his flank, cooping him up in his lines, and leaving him master of little more than the ground his men encamped upon, and the streets his sentinels par trolled. When Franklin was told in Paris that Howe had taken Philadelphia, his reply was, “Philadelphia has taken Howe.” But, with the exception of Franklin, contemporary opinion in the month of December, 1777, was very different from that of to-day, and the cabal had been at work ever since the commander-inchief had stepped between Conway and the exorbitant rank he coveted. Washington, indeed, was perfectly aware of what was going on. He was quiet and dignified, impassive and silent, but he knew when men, whether great or small, were plotting against him, and he watched them with the same keenness as he did Howe and the British. In the midst of his struggle to hold the Delaware forts, and of his efforts to get back his troops from the north, a story came to him that arrested his attention. Wilkinson, of Gates's staff, had come to Congress with the news of the surrender. He had been fifteen days on the road and three days getting his papers in order, and when it was proposed to give him a sword, Dr. Witherspoon, canny Scot as he was, suggested that they had better “gie the lad a pair of spurs.” This thrust and some delay seem to have nettled Wilkinson, who was swelling with importance, and although he was finally made a brigadier-general, he rode off to the north much ruffled. In later years Wilkinson was secretive enough ; but in his hot youth he could not hold his tongue, and on his way back to Gates he talked. What he said was marked and carried to head

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