Abbildungen der Seite

that he is rather conferring, than receiving an obligation ; there will be a total relaxation of all orderand discipline, and every thing will move heavily on, to the great detriment of the service, and inex- pressible trouble and vexation of the General.

.“ The critical situation of our affairs at this tinie, will justify my saying, that no time is to be lost in making fruitless experiments. An unavailing trial of a month, to get an army upon the terms proposed, may render it impracticable to do it at all, and prove fatal to our cause, as I am not sure whether any rubs in the way of our enlistments, or unfavourable turn in our affairs, may not prove the means of the enemy's recruiting men faster than we do. To this may be added, the inextricable difficulty of forming one corps out of another, and arranging matters with any degree of order, in the face of any enemy who are watching foradvantages.

“At Cambridge, last year, where the officers (and more than a sufficiency of them) were all upon the spot, we found it a work of such extreme difficulty to know their sentiments, (each having some terms to propose,) that I despaired once of getting the arrangement completed, and do suppose, that. at least a hundred alterations took place before matters were finally adjusted. What must it be, then, under the present regulation, where the offre cer is to negociate this matter with the state he comes from, distant, perhaps, two or three hundred 002


miles, some of whom, without any license from me, set out to make personal application, the moment the resolution got to their hands? What kind of officers these are, I leave Congress to judge.

“If an officer of reputation (for none other should be applied to) is asked to stay, what answer can he give, but, in the first place, that he does not know whether it is at his option to do so, no provision being made in the resolution of Congress, even recommendatory of this measure; consequent ly, that it rests with the state he comes from (surrounded, perhaps, with a variety of applications, and influenced perhaps with local attachments) to determine whether he can be provided for or not? In the next place, if he is an officer of merit, and knows that the state he comes from is to furnish more battalions than it at present has in service, he will scarcely, after two years' faithful services, think of continuing in the rank he now bears, when new creations are to be made, and men appointed to offices (nowise superior in merit, and ignorant of service, perhaps,) over his head.

"A committee sent to the army from each state, may, upon the spot, fix things with a degree of propriety and certainty, and is the only method I can see, of bringing measures to a decision with respect to the officers of the army : but what can be done, in the mean time, towards the arrangement in the country, I know not. In the one case, you run


the hazard of losing your officers; in the other, of encountering delay, unless some method could be devised of forwarding both at the same instant.

“ Upon the present plan, I plainly foresee an intervention of time between the old and new army, which must be filled with militia, if to be had, with whom no man, who has any regard for his own reputation, can undertake to be answerable for consequences. I shall also be mistaken in my conjectures, if we do not lose the most valuable officers in this army, under the present mode of appointing them: consequently, if we have an army at all, it will be composed of materials not only entirely raw, but, if uncommon pains are not taken, entirely unfit: and I see such a distrust and jealousy of military power, that the Commander in Chief has not an opportunity, even by recommendation, to give the least assurances of reward for the most essential services.

“In a word, such a cloud of perplexing circumstances appears before me, without one flattering hope, that I am thoroughly convinced, unless the most vigorous and decisive exertions are immediately adopted to remedy these evils, that the certain and absolute loss of our liberties will be the inevitable consequence, as one unhappy stroke will throw a powerful weight into the scale against us, and enable General Howe to recruit his army as fast as we shall ours, numbers being disposed, and 003




many actually doing so already. Some of the most probable remedies, and such as experience has brought to my more intimate knowledge, I have taken the liberty to point out; the rest I beg leave to submit to the consideration of Congress.

" I ask pardon for taking up so much of their time with my opinions, but I should betray that trust which they and my country have reposed in me, were I to be silent upon matters so extremely interesting.” • On receiving this very serious letter, it was resolved, that the pay of the officers should be raised according to the wishes of the General; and that it should be recommended to the legislatures of those states having any reginients now in the continental service, either at New York, Ticonderoga, or New Jersey, forthwith to depute committees to those places, in order to appoint officers to the regiments to be raised under the new establishments, that they might re-enlist those men, now in service, who should incline to engage for the war. They also recommended to these committees, in making these appointnients, to advise with the General, and to promote such officers as had distinguished themselves for abilities, activity, and vigilance, and more especially for their attention to military discipline; and not to appoint any officer: who should leave his station in the army, and be absent without leave. On further reflec


[ocr errors]

tion, they added another recommendation, which manifests the sense they entertained of the ill consequences of the pernicious mode of creating officers, originally adopted. It was, that all the officers to be appointed be men of honour* and


* In a very long and confidential letter to Governor Henry, of Virginia, the Commander in Chief, when adverting to the additional regiments to be raised in that state, thus pressed the ' necessity of selecting, with care, the oficers to be appointed to them.

“ I imagine, before this, Congress have made you acquainted with their resolutions for raising the new army, and that your colony is to furnish fifteen battalions, to be enlisted during the war. As it will occasion the choosing a number of new officers, I would, in the most urgent manner, recommend the utmost care and circumspection in your several appointments. I do not expect that there are many experienced gentlemen now left . with you, as, from what I have understood, those who served in the last war are chiefly promoted; however, I am satisfied, that the military spirit runs so high in your colony, and that the number of applicants will be so considerable, that a very proper choice may be made. Indeed, the army being put upon such a permanent footing, will be a strong inducement for them to step forth on the present interesting occasion. One circun. stance in this important business ought to be cautiously guarded against, and that is, the soldier and officer being too nearly on a level. Discipline and subordination add life and vigour to military movements. The person commanded yields but a reluctant obedience to those he conceives undeservedly made his superiors. The degrees of rank are frequently transferred from civil life into the departments of the army. The true criterion

« ZurückWeiter »