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CHAP. VII. therefore addressed to sir William Howe, in.: 1778. forming him that particular circumstances had
rendered it inconvenient for the American commissioners to attend at the time appointed, and requesting that their meeting might be deferred from the 10th, to the 31st of march. * The interval was successfully employed, in obtaining from congress a repeal of the resolu. tion complained of.
It would seem probable that the dispositions of congress, on the subject of an exchange, did not correspond with those of general Washington. From the fundamental principles of the military establishments of the United States in the commencement of the war, an exchange of prisoners would, at all times, strengthen the army of the enemy much more than that of the Americans. The war having been carried on by troops engaged for short terms, aided by militia, the American prisoners when ex. changed, returned to their homes as citizens, while those of the enemy again took the field. An addition of numbers was therefore made to the hostile army, while no corresponding addition was made to their own. .
It is not improbable, that this consideration had its influence in procuring the resolutions
* Sir William was probably not unacquainted with the cause of this delay; but he seemed disposed to avail himself of it, perhaps to manifest his unfavourable sentiments of congress.
already mentioned, which were completely CHAP. VIL subversive in fact, though not in form, of the 1778. cartel agreed on by the two commanders in chief.
General Washington, who was governed by a policy more just, and more permanently bene. ficial, addressed himself very seriously to congress, as well on the injury done the public faith, and his own personal honour, by this infraction of a solemn engagement, as on the cruelty, and impolicy, of adopting a system, which must forever cut off all hopes of an exchange, and render imprisonment as lasting as the war. He represented in strong terms, the effect such a measure must have on the troops, on whom they should hereafter be compelled in a great measure to rely, and its impression on the friends and relations of those who were already in captivity. These remonstrances had the desired effect, and the resolutions complained of were repealed. The commissioners met according to the second appointment, but on examining their powers, it appeared that those given by general Washington, were expressed to be in virtue of the authority vested in him; while those given by general sir Wil.
liam Howe, contained no such declaration. .: This omission was objected to on the part of | the United States, but general Howe refused
to correct it, alleging that he designed the treaty to be of a personal nature, founded on
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CHAP. VII. the mutual confidence and honour of the con. 1778. tracting generals, and had no intention either
of binding his nation, or of extending the cartel beyond the limits and duration of his own com... mand.
, This explanation was totally unsatisfactory to the American commissioners, who objected altogether to a treaty dependent on the personal faith of the generals, as being unequal and ineffectual: unequal, because by the terms in which their powers were expressed, the faith of the United States was pledged for the obser. vance of the stipulations they might enter into, while the British government would remain unbound; and ineffectual, because the object was, not only to settle past differences, and effect a present exchange of prisoners, but also to establish principles which should govern in future, and which would include matters of very interesting civil concern, as well as those of a military nature.
General Howe persisting in his refusal to make the alteration in his powers which had been acquired, the negotiation broke off, and this fair prospect of terminating the distresses of a great number of unfortunate persons, passed away without effecting the good it had promised.
Some time after the failure of the negotiation relative to a general cartel, sir William Howe proposed that all prisoners actually exchange.
able should be sent in to the nearest posts, and CHAP. VII. returns made of officer for officer of equal rank, 1778. and soldier for soldier, as far as numbers would admit; and that if a surplus of officers should remain, they should be exchanged for an equi.
valent in privates. . On the representations of general Washington, congress acceded substantially to this proposition, so far as related to the exchange of officer for officer, and soldier for soldier, but rejected the part which admitted an equivalent in privates, for a surplus of officers, because the officers captured with Burgoyne were exchangeable within the powers of general Howe. Under this agreement, an exchange took place to a considerable extent: but as the Americans had lost many more prisoners than they had taken, unless the army of Burgoyne should be brought into computation, numbers unex. changed were still detained in captivity.
General Lacy surprised....General Howe resigns his com-,
mand, and returns to England; is succeeded by sir H. Clinton.... The British army evacuate Philadelphia, and march through the Jerseys....Council of war called by general Washington, decide against attacking the enemy on their march.... The opinion of the general against this decision....He attacks the enemy at Monmouth court-house.... The action severe, but not decisive.... General Lee arrested for his behaviour in this action, and afterwards to the cominander in chief....Court martial appointed to try him....Sentenced to be suspended from his command for one year.... The thanks of congress presented to general Washington and his army, for their conduct in the battle at Monmouth.
E position at Valley forge had been taken by the American army, for the purposes of covering the country of Pennsylvania, protecting the magazines laid up in it, and cutting off those supplies to the British in Philadelphia, which would be of great utility to them, and with which very many of the people were well disposed to furnish them. It was impossible without a vast increase of force, to station troops in sufficient numbers on both sides of the Delaware, and the Schuylkill, to repel large parties which it was easy for the enemy to detach; and of course, this formed no part of the system of operations laid down for the winter. The plan extended no further, than to guard, with the militia of Pennsylvania, the