« ZurückWeiter »
France ; the combined force in the West Indies, the declaration of Russia (acceded to by other powers of Europe, humiliating the naval pride of Great Britain), 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 susceptible of peaceful dreams) that the hour of de. liverance was not far distant; and that, however unwilling Great Britain might be to yield the points, it would not be in her power to continue the contest. But alas ! these prospects, flattering as they were, have proved delusory; and I see nothing before us but accumulating distress. We have been half our time without provisions, and are likely to continue so. We have no magazines, nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients till 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 ceconomy. 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 accomplished 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 acommodate itself to our views. If it were necessary, it could be easily proved to any person of 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 could be enumerated, ten times more expensive than a permanent body of men under good organization and military discipline ; which never was, and never will be, the case with new troops. A thousand arguments, resulting from experience and the na. ture of things, might also be adduced to prove that the army, if it is to depend on 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?”
Treason and escape of Arnold_Trial and executicn
of Major André-Parties in Congress--Letter of General Washington on American affairs Proceedings of Congress respecting the army-Major Tralmadge destroys the British stores at CoranArmy retires into winter quarters-Irruption of Major Carlton into New York-European transactions.
HILE the public mind was anticipating the
great events expected from the combined arms of France and America; while the army was assailed by every species of distress, and almost compelled to disperse by the want of food; while General Washington was struggling with difficulties, and sustaining the mortification of seeing every prospect he had laboured to realize, successively dissipating; treason found its way into the American camp, and was machinating the ruin of the American cause.
The great services and military talents of General Arnold, his courage in battle, and the patient fortitude with which he bore the most excessive hardships, had secured to him a high place in the
opinion of the army, and a large portion of the confidence of his country.
Having not sufficiently recovered from the wounds he had received before Quebec, and at Saratoga, to be fit for active service; and having large accounts to settle with the continent, which required leisure; he was, on the evacuation of Philadelphia in 1778, appointed to take the command in that place.
Unfortunately, with that firmness which he had displayed in the field and in the most adverse cir. cumstances, were not associated that strength of principle and correctness of judgment which might enable him to resist the various seductions to which his high station exposed him in the metropolis of the union. Yielding to the temptations of a false pride and giddy vanity, forgetting that he did not possess the resources of private fortune, he indulged in all the pleasures of a sumptuous table and expensive equipage. Such habits may well be supposed incompatible with good management; and his debts soon swelled to an amount, which it was impossible to discharge. Unmindful of his military character, he engaged in speculations which were unfortunate; and, with the hope of immense profit, took shares in privateers, which were unsuccessful. His claims against the United States were great, and to them he looked for the means of extricating himself
from the difficulties into which his indiscretions had plunged him: but the commissioners to whom his accounts were referred for settlement, reduced them considerably; and on his appeal from their decision to Congress, a committee reported that the sum allowed him by the commissioners, with which he was dissatisfied, was more than he was entitled to receive. He was charged with various acts of extortion on the citizens of Philadelphia, and with peculating on the funds of the continent. Not the less soured and disgusted by these multiplied causes of irritation, in consequence of their being attributable to his own follies and vices, he gave full scope to his resentments; and indulged himself in expressions of angry reproach against what he termed the ingratitude of his country, which provoked those around him, and gave great offence to Congress. Having rendered himself peculiarly obnoxious to the government of Pennsylvania, as well as to many of the citizens of Philadelphia, formal charges against him were brought by the executive of that state before Congress, who directed that he should be arrested and tried by a court martial.
Such were the various delays occasioned by the movements of the army, and the difficulty of obtaining testimony, that his trial, though commenced in June 1778, was not concluded till the 26th of January 1779, when he was sentenced to be re