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attention of Congress to the condition of the army, and as winter approached his calls grew more urgent. He had found it impossible to induce either officers or soldiers to subscribe the Articles of War. He had been compelled to assume the responsibility of settling the rank of the officers, and numbering the regiments. The terms of enlistment of the Rhode Island and Connecticut troops expired on the 1st of December. None were bound beyond the 1st of January. Yet it was not till the middle of October that a committee of Congress came to Cambridge and set itself seriously to the task of reorganization. The subject had already been considered in a council of war, and the council and committee agreed in fixing the number of regiments at twenty-six, exclusive of riflemen and artillery ; each regiment to consist of eight companies, and the whole to compose an army of 20,372 men to face the English in Boston.
It was evident that a portion of the new army must be drawn from the old. But would men with such experience of war as our soldiers were now going through be willing to go through it
It was equally evident that every enlistment ought to be made for the war, and every nerve strained to form a permanent army. “ If Congress had given a large bounty, and engaged the soldiery during the war,” wrote General Greene in December, “the continent would be much securer, and
the measure cheaper in the end.” But Congress was still groping in the dark, wasting time and energy in discussions and half-measures, — the unconscious victim of two fatal errors, – sectional jealousies and the dread of a standing army. An army raised, paid, clothed, fed, disciplined, and governed in the name of Congress, seemed to some a dangerous encroachment upon State rights; to others, a dangerous weapon in the hands of a successful general. “If our enemies prevail, which our dissensions may occasion,” wrote Governor Trumbull of Connecticut, " our jealousies will then appear frivolous, and all our disputed claims of no value to either side.” “ The fate of kingdoms depends upon the just improvement of critical moments,” wrote General Greene. ...“ The temper and feelings of men can be wrought up to a certain pitch, and then, like all transitory things, they sicken and subside. This is the time for a wise legislator to avail himself of the advantage which the favorable disposition of the people gives him, to execute whatever sound policy dictates. It is not in the province of mortals to reduce human events in politics to a certainty. It is our duty to provide the means to obtain our ends, and leave the event to Him who is the all-wise governor and disposer of the universe.” Many, too, were terrified at the expense. “What signifies our being frightened at the expense ? ” wrote General Greene “ if we succeed, we gain all; if we are conquered, we lose all.” And speaking of Colonial jealousies, " It grieves me that such jealousies should prevail. If they are nourished, they will sooner or later sap the foundations of the Union and dissolve the connection. God in mercy avert so dreadful an evil.”
But while some clearer minds saw things in their true light, the public mind had not yet been thoroughly awakened to a perception of duties or responsibilities, and Congress seldom ventured far in advance of the public mind. Therefore the new army, like the old, was enlisted for a limited period.
Fortunately, the feeling in the country was still strong. In December, when the Connecticut troops went home s by shoals,” the people on the road refused to give them food or shelter. Many of the old soldiers were ready to enlist for another year, but asked a short furlough before they returned to duty. Never were Washington and his generals less to be envied than during the autumn and winter of 1775, with an old army to disband and a new army to enroll within point-blank shot of an enemy perfectly armed and disciplined, and led by experienced officers.* Howe’s blindness is almost incredible. But Washington's calm self-possession is sublime.
All through October and November the work of enlistment went on; sometimes so briskly as to awaken strong hopes; sometimes so slowly as to excite serious apprehensions. Dissatisfied officers discouraged enlistments. Important as it was to conciliate the good will of the old troops, the dearth of arms was so great, that on dismissing the men it was found necessary to retain their arms without regard to the distinction between public and private property. Often, too, the price set upon them by the public appraisers fell below the original cost. And of the arms thus hardly got, half were mere fowling-pieces of different bores, and nearly all of them without bayonets.
* For some of the difficulties referred to, see Washington's letter to the President of Congress. (Sparks, III. 156; Corraspondence of Rev., I. 82.)
At last December came. The militia was called in to take the place of the disbanded troops. Everything was confusion and disorder. But in spite of confusion and disorder and discouragement, Washington went calmly on, the old army was dissolved, and by the beginning of the year a new army had taken its place.
And thus ended the first army of the Revolution. Hurriedly formed in an hour of intense excitement, composed principally of farmers and mechanics, men of some means and accustomed to labor, it had never acquired much skill of evolution or much exactness of discipline; it had fought no battles after Bunker Hill, had made no marches or expeditions; but it had kept a veteran army, supported by a large fleet, closely penned up for eight months within the limits of a small town; had
effectually cut off their supplies and rendered their superiority of equipments and discipline useless ; and when it passed away, it contributed a large body of its best and ablest men as a nucleus for the formation of the army of 1776.
This army of ’76, with reinforcements of militia and additional regiments from the Middle States, was the army with which Washington made his wonderful retreat from Long Island and fought the battle of White Plains. Sickness, battle, detachments, desertion, expiration of service, had sadly thinned its ranks when it made its memorable retreat through the Jerseys. But it surprised the Hessians at Trenton ; defeated the British at Princeton ; and accomplished those brilliant movements which, even without Yorktown, would have been sufficient to establish Washington's claim to military genius of the highest order. Nor should it be forgotten that at the most critical moment of the campaign, when the terms of service of the New-England regiments was about to expire, instead of marching off as they might have done 6 to the music of the enemy's cannon," they engaged for six weeks of winter service and stood by their General until he had taken up his strong position at Morristown and the enemy had gone into winter quarters.
During the whole of this momentous year Washington had been exerting all his influence to convince Congress of the impossibility of carrying