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ings of a whole nation are remarkably swayed by them. The expedition of Burgoyne was adorned by the romantic and affecting tales of M.Crea, and lady Harriet Ackland. The latter is of no further consequence in this narration, than as it reflects great credit on the politeness and humanity of general Gates. Major Ackland, the husband of this lady, was wounded and made prisoner in one of the battles preceding the surrender, and his wife, in going to the hostile camp to attend her husband, met with a reception, which proved that long converse with military scenes, had left the virtues of humanity wholly unimpaired in his bosom.
Gates was now placed at the head of the board of war; a post of trust and dignity, scarcely inferior to that of the commander in chief.
He was in a private station, residing on his farm in Virginia, in June, 1780. The low state of their affairs, in the southern districts, induced congress, on the 13th of that month, to call him to the chief command in that quarter. The state of affairs in Pennsylvania, Jersey, and New York, afforded sufficient employment for Washington, and Gates being the next in rank and reputation, was resorted to as the last refuge of his suffering country.
The efforts of the British in the southern states had been very strenuous and successful. Charleston, the chief city, had been taken. All the American detachments, collected with great difficulty, easily dissolved by their own fears, ill furnished with arms, and unqualified for war, by inexperience and want of discipline, were instantly overwhelmed and dispersed by the well equipped cavalry of Tarleton, and the veterans of Rawdon and Cornwallis. The American leaders were famous for their valour, perseverance, and activity; but these qualities would not supply the place of
guns, and of hands to manage them. At this crisis Gates took the command of that miserable remnant which bore the name of the southern army, and which mustered about fifteen hundred men. A very numerous and formidable force existed in the promises of North Carolina and Virginia. The paper armies of the new states always made a noble appearance. All the muniments of war overflowed the skirts of these armies; but, alas! the field was as desolate as the paper estimate was full. The promised army proved to be only one tenth of the stipulated number, and assembled at the scene of action long after the fixed time. The men were destitute of arms and ammunition, and, what was most to be regretted, were undisciplined.
Two modes of immediate action were proposed. One was to advance into the country possessed by the enemy, by a road somewhat circuitous, but which would supply the army with accommodation and provisions. Gates was averse to dilatofy measures. He was, perhaps, somewhat misled by the splendid success which had hitherto attended him. He was anxious to come to action immediately, and to terminate the war by a few bold and energetic efforts. He, therefore, resolved to collect all the troops into one body, and to meet the enemy as soon as possible. T'wo days after his arrival in camp he began his march by the most direct road. This road, unfortunately, led through a barren country, in the hottest and most unwholesome season of the year.
During this march, all the forebodings of those who preferred a different track, were amply fulfilled. A scanty supply of cattle, found nearly wild in the woods, was their principal sustenance, while bread or flour was almost wholly wanting, and' when we add to a scarcity of food, the malignity of the climate and the season, we shall not
wonder that the work of the enemy was anticipated in the destruction of considerable numbers by disease. The perseverance of Gates, in surmounting the obstacles presented by piny thickets and dismal swamps, deserves praise, however injudi. cious the original choice of such a road may be thought by some. In this course he effected a junction with some militia of North Carolina, and with a detachment under Porterfield.
He finally took possession of Clermont, whence the British commander, lord Rawdon, had previously withdrawn. That general prepared, by collecting and centering his forces in one body, to overwhelm him in a single battle. Lord Rawdon was posted, with his forces, at Camden. After some deliberation, the American leader determined to approach the English, and expose himself to the chance of a battle.
Rumour had made the numbers of the Americans much greater thian they really were in the imagination of the British. Cornwallis, himself, hastened to the scene of action, and, though mustering all his strength for this arduous occasion, could not bring two thousand effective men into the field. Nineteert, however, out of twenty, of these, were veterans of the most formidable qualifications. With the reinforcement of seven hundred Virginia militia and some other detachments, Gates's army did not fall short of four thousand men. A very small portion of these were regular troops, while the rest were a wavering and undisciplined militia, whose presence was rather injurious than beneficial.
Notwithstanding his inferiority of numbers, Cornwallis found that a retreat would be more pernicious than a battle under the worst auspices; and he himself on the 16th of August, prepared to attack his enemy. General Gates had taken the same resolution at the same time, and the adverse
forces came to an engagement, in which the Americans suffered a defeat. The loss of the battle was ascribed, with reason, to the unskilfulness of the militia. Among these the route and confusion was absolute and irretrievable, and Gates had the singular fortune of conducting the most prosperous and the most disastrous of the military enterprises in this war.
Here was a dismal reverse in the life of Gates. His prosperous scale sunk at Camden as fast as it had mounted at Saratoga. There had been a difference of opinion as to the best road to the theatre of action, and the hardships and diseases which one party had foretold would infest the road which he took, actually exceeded what was menaced. A battle lost against half the number, in circumstances where the vanquished army was taken, in some degree, by surprise, would not fail to suggest suspicions as to the caution or discernment of the general.
Gates continued in command till October the : 5th, in the same year, about fifty days after the disaster at Camden. In this interval he had been busily employed in repairing the consequences of that defeat, and was now reposing for the winter. He was, on that day, however, displaced, and subjected to the inquiry of a special court. The inquiry was a tedious one, but terminated finally in the acquittal of the general. He was reinstated in his military command in the year 1782. In the meantime, however, the great scenes of the southern war, especially the capture of Cornwallis, had past. Little room was afforded to a new general to gather either laurels or henbane. A particular detail of those transactions in which he was concerned, exceeds the limits prescribed to this hasty sketch. In like manner, we are unable to digest that voluminous mass of letters, evidences, and
documents by which the resolution of congress, in favour of his conduct at Camden, was dictated.
The capture of Cornwallis which produced such grand and immediate consequences, swallowed up the memory of all former exploits, and whatever sentence the impartial historian may pronounce on the comparative importance of the capture of Burgoyne, and the surrender of Cornwallis, to the national welfare, or to the merit of the leaders, the people of that time could not hearken to any such parallel. They swam in joy and exultation, and the hero of York-town was alike with congress and with the people the only saviour of his country.
When the revolution was completed, Gates retired to his plantation in Virginia. We are unacquainted with the particulars of his domestic economy; but have reason to infer that it was eminently mild and liberal, since seven years afterwards, when he took up his final residence in New York, he gave freedom to his slaves. Instead of turping them to the highest profit, he made provision for the old and infirm, while several of them testified their attachment to him by remaining in his family. · In the characteristic virtue of planters, hospitality, Gates had no competitor, and his reputation may well be supposed to put that virtue to a hard test. He purchased, in the neighbourhood of New York, a spacious house, with valuable ground, for the life of himself and his wife, and here, with few exceptions, he remained for the rest of his life.
No wonder that the military leaders in the revoJution, should aspire to the enjoyment of its civil honours afterwards. The war was too short to create a race of mere soldiers. The merchants and lawyers who entered the army, became merchants and lawyers again, and had lost none of their primitive qualifications for administering the civil government. Gates, however, was a singular example among the officers of bigh rank. His