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pose. It is not easy to give you a just and CHAP. VI. accurate idea of the sufferings of the army at 1777. large, and the loss of men on this account. Were they to be minutely detailed, your feel. ings would be wounded, and the relation would, probably, be not received, without a degree of doubt and discredit. We had in camp on the 23d instant, (December) by a field return then taken, not less than two thousand eight hundred and ninety-eight men unfit for duty, by reason of their being barefoot, and otherwise naked. Besides this number, sufficiently distressing of itself, there are many others detained in hospitals, and crowded into farmers houses, for the same causes. The care and attention of the states will, I flatter myself, be in a most particular manner directed to the supply of shoes, stockings, and blankets; as the expenditure of those articles is, from the common operations and accidents of war, far greater than of any others. In a word, the united and respective exertions of the states cannot be too great, too vigorous in this interesting work, and we shall never have a fair and just prospect of success, until our troops (officers and soldiers) shall be better provided for, than they are, or have been.” : · The various exertions made in every direction, at length produced, in a great degree, the effect desired; and in no subsequent winter were the sufferings of the troops comparable to those sustained in the winter of 1777... 8.
CHAP. VI. The uncommon proportion of sick in the 1777. American army has often been noticed, and
the causes to which that calamity might be attributed assigned. Their food was not adapted to their habits, and to the climate. Perhaps from the extreme scarcity and dearness of the article, a sufficient quantity of salted provisions was not mingled with the rations delivered to them. Vinegar was very inadequately supplied, , and, for a considerable time, vegetables were
scarcely known in camp. Great exertions were made by the general to correct these improprieties, but their correction was a labour of infinite difficulty, slow in its progress, and essentially affected by the unfortunate derange. ments made by congress in the commissary department. This cause was unquestionably of extensive operation, but the want of tents for the summer, and of clothes for the winter, was perhaps still more so. Even those not returned unfit for duty were in general so wretchedly clad, that they were by no means in a fit condi. tion for the hard service they were under the necessity of performing. The hospitals were therefore unusually crowded with sick, and were unfortunately so ill supplied, that from thence, a very unusual number were conducted 'to the grave.
In a letter to governor Livingston on this subject, general Washington observed, “I sincerely feel for the unhappy condition of our poor fellows in the hospitals, and wish my CHAP. VI. powers to relieve them were equal to my incli. 1777. nation. It is but too melancholy a truth, that our hospital stores of every kind are lamentably scanty and deficient. I fear there is no prospect of their, being soon in a better condition. Our difficulties and distresses are certainly great, and such as wound the feelings of humanity....our sick, naked!....our well, naked!.... our unfortunate men in captivity, naked!".
These distressing circumstances tended greatly to diminish the army, but they were not the only causes in operation, which were productive of that effect. The calamities produced by short inlistments were not, even yet, entirely exhausted. Several of the states, find. ing it impracticable to recruit the quotas assigned to them, had in some degree supplied the deficiency by drafts to serve for the year. Their terms of service were now expiring, and no hope existed of retaining them for a longer time.
It was also found extremely difficult to obtain from the militia either of Pennsylvania or Delaware, the small aids which, during the winter, were expected or required from them.
To prevent the country people from going into Philadelphia, on the east side of the Schuylkill, and supplying the market by that route, was the duty assigned to the militia of Pennsylvania, assisted by major Jameson with
CHAP. VI. two troops of cavalry; and the state had been 1778. required to keep one thousand men constantly
in service for that purpose. For a time, this number was kept up, and the expected service performed under general Potter, a very active and vigilant militia officer; but the state began soon to relax in supplying the men required; and, instead of one thousand, their numbers were often less than one hundred, and of consequence, the roads were seldom sufficiently guarded.
To anticipate general Howe, who it was understood had contemplated a post at Wil. mington, general Smallwood was detached to that place; and as fears were entertained that an attempt might be made to dislodge him, the militia of that state were directed to re-enforce him;' but these directions seem to have been entirely disregarded.
In the mean-time the. Continental army was not in a condition to supply these deficiencies. They were assiduously employed in erecting their huts, completing the bridge over the Schuylkill, and fortifying their camp; a work of great and pressing necessity, but which unavoidably experienced considerable delays in consequence of the great proportion of the soldiers rendered incapable of labour in the open air, by the want of clothing.
To recruit the army for the next campaign, was an object of which the commander in chief
tions to increase his
place it on a
felt the importance, and laboured to impress it CHAP. VI. on the several states, as well as on congress. 1778. But it was an object, the difficulty of accom- General plishing which continually increased. From ton's exer. the depreciation of paper money and from other
force, and to causes, no hope remained of obtaining any res- respectablea pectable number of men by voluntary inlist. fore the ensu.
ing campaign ments; and coercive means could only be employed by the respective states. To persuade them to apply with the requisite dispatch sufficient energies to this subject, required all the influence of general Washington; and his letters urged them by every motive which could operate on the human mind, to meet with sufficient means the crisis of the war, which he apprehended was now approaching.
He exhorted them to place no confidence in foreign aid, but to depend on their own internal strength and resources for the maintenance of their independence. He did not doubt but that Britain would, if not prevented by a war in Europe, make great exertions to re-enforce her armies in America, and effect the objects of the war. Only correspondent exertions to keep in the field a Continental army at least equal to that of the enemy could prevent their success.
He enėlosed to each state a return of its troops on the continental establishment; thereby exhibiting to each, its own deficiency, which each was strongly urged to supply. . .-. VOL. III.