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money whatsoever, and refuse to sell the same for the said contimental bills; every such person ought to be deemed an cnemy to the liberties of these United States, and to forfeit the value of the money so exchanged, or louse, land or commodity so sold or offered to sale. And it is recommended to the legislatures of the respective states, to enact laws inflicting such forfeitures and other penalties on offenders as aforesaid, as will prevent such pernicious practices--that it be recommended to the legislatures of the United States, to pass laws. to make the bills of credit issued by thic congress, a lawful tender in payments of public and private debts, and a refusal thereof an extinguishment of such debts; that debts payable in sterling money, be discharged withy continental dollars, at the rate of four and six-pence sterling per doliar; and that in discharge of all other debts and contracts, continental dollars pass at the rate fixed by the respective states for the value of Spanish milled dollars."
The several states will undoubtediy make the continental bills a legal tender, agreeable to the recommendation; though therein they establish the perpetration of iniquity by law. There are too many debtors in every state, and general, assembly, who will by the help of it clear theniscives of incumbrances; and who will feci nothing, or but little, at the injustice they commit i12. paying their creditors with a depreciated currency, while they have the law of the land in their favor But all these attempts of congress to keep up the value of the bills, are delusive ;. and will deceive those most who have the greatest com dence in the wisdom of the present measure. It is scarce possible that they can so far impose upon their own judgments, as to vicw it in any other light than a momentary relief from a present evit, by subjecting themselves to a greater in future, but which, when is shail arrive, they flatter theniselves they shall get rid of by somne new expedient.
(Jan. 16.] Congress “Resolved, That a committee of seven be appointed to enquire into the conduct of the British and Hessian generals and officers toward the officers, soldiers and mariners in the service of the United States, and any other persons, inhabitants of these states, in their possession, as prisoners of war or otherwise, and also into the conduct of the said gencrals and officers, and the troops under their command, toward the subjects of these states and their property, more especially of the states of New-York and New Jersey." This committee will undoubtedly authenticate the cruelties of the royal army, which have been too frequent and notorious. The very orders of gen. Howe have not been sufficiently guarded for the preventing of abuses. When the enemy fled from their cantonments in the Jerseys, his orders to
col. Donop fell into the hands of the Americans; they expressed that “all salted and meal provisions, which may be judged to exceed the quantity necessary for the subsistence of an ordinary family, shall be considered as a magazine of the enemy, and seized for the king, and given to the troops as a saving for the public."
When the royal army entered the Jerseys, the inhabitants pretty generally remained in their houses, and many thousands received printed protections, signed by order of the commander in chiet. But neither the proclamation of the commissioners, nor protections, saved the people from plunder any more than from insuit. Their property was taken or destroyed without distinction of persons. They showed their protections; Hessians could - not read them, and would not understand them; and the British soldiers thought they had as good a right to a share of booty as the Hessians. The loyalists were plundered even at New-York. Gen. De Heister may be pronounced the arch-plunderer. He offered the house he lived in at New-York, to public sale; though the property of a very loyal subject, who had voluntarily and hospitably acconimodated him with it. The goods of others, suffering restraint or imprisonment among the Americans, were sold by auction. The carriages of gentlemen of the first rank, were seized, their arms defaced, and the plunderer's arms blazoned in their place; and this too by British officers. Discontents and murmurs increased every hour at the licentious ravages of the soldiery, both British and foreigners, who were shamefully permita ted, with unrelenting hand, to pillage friend and foe in the Jerseys. * Neither age nor sex was spared. Indiscriminate ruin attended every person they met with. Infants, children, old men *and women, were left in their shirts, without a blanket to cover them, under the inclemency of winter. Every kind of furniture was destroyed and burnt; windows and doors were broken to pieces; in short, the houses were left uninhabitable, and the people without provisions; for every horse, cow, ox and fowl, was carried off. Horrid depredations and abuses were committed by that part of the army which was stationed at or near Penny-town. Sixteen young women fled to the woods, to avoid the brutality of the soldiers, and were there seized and carried off. One man had the crucl mortification to have his wife and only daughier (a child of ten years) ravished. Another giriof thirteen, was taken from her father's house, carried to a barn about a mile off, there dishonored, and afterward abused by five others. A most respectable gentleman in the neighborhood of Woodbridge, was
· * See the letters of a Loyalia.
alarmed with the crics and shrieks of a most lovely daughter; he found a British officer in the act of violating her, and instantly put him to death. Two other officers rushed in with their fusces, and fired two balls into the father, who was lauguishing under his wounds the beginning of January. * .
These enormities, though too frequently practised in a time of war by the military, unless restrained by the severest discipline, so exasperated the people of the Jerseys, that they flew to arins immediately upup the army's hurrying from Trenton, and forming tiemselves into parties, they way-laid the men, and cut them off as they had opportunity. The militia collected. The Americans in a few days over-ran the Jerseys. The army was. forced from Woodbridge. Gen. Maxwell surprised ElizabethTown, and took near 100 prisoners, with a quantity of baggage... Newark was abandoned. The royal troops were confined to the narrow compass, of Brunswick and Anboy, both holding an open communication with New-York by water. They could not eren stir out to forage but in large parties, which seldom returned without loss. [Jan. 20.7 Gen. Dickenson, with about 400 militia and 50 of the Pennsylvania riflemen, defeated near So. merset court-house, on Millstone river, a foraging party of the eneiny, of equal number; and took 40 waggons, upward of 100 horses, beside sheep and cattle which they had collected.. They retreated with such precipitation that he could make only nine prisoners; but they were observed to carry off many dead and wounded in light waggons. The general's behavior reflects the highest honor upon him; for though his troops were all raw, he led them through the river middle deep, and gave the enemy so severe a charge, that although supported by three field. pieces, they gave way and left their convoy.
The whole country was now become hostile to the British army. Sufferers of all parties rose as one man to revenge their personal injuries and particular oppressions, and were the most bitter and determined enemies. They who were incapable of bearing arms, acted as spies, and kept a continual watch, so that not the smallest motion could be made by the royalists, without its being discovered before it could produce the intended effect. This hostile spirit was encouraged by a proclamation of general Washington (jan. 25.] which commands every person having subscribed the declaration of fidelity to Greai-Britain, taken the oaths of allegiance, and accepted protections and certificates from the commissioners, to deliver up the same, and take the oath of allegiance to thc United States of America. It grants howe
* Remembrancer, part IV. p. 307.
ver, full liberty to all such as prefer the interest and protection of Great Britain to the frecdom and happiness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves and families within the enemy's lines. But it declares, that all who neglector refuse to comply with the order, within thirty days from tie date, will be deemned adherents to the king of Great Britain, and treated as common enemies to these American States. Some days before the proclamation was issued, a number of the Pennsylvania militia, having served the time fixed upon, were desirous of returning, which was complied with, and the general took the earliest opportunity of returning his most hearty thanks to those brave men, who in the most inclement season of the year nobly stepped forth in detence of their country. He also acknowledged with pleasure the signal services done by the said milicia; and with additional satisfaction, the good services of those battalions, who determined to reinain with him after the expiration of their times of service. The militia of Pennsylvania are not only entitled to the hearty thanks of the commander in chief, but of the United States ; for greatly through their instrumentality, the Jerseys have been nearly recovered, and a victorious and superior army been reduced to act upon the defensive, as well as Philadelphia saved, and Pennsylvania freed from danger. Nor will gratitude forget the share which gen. Mifflin had in exciting them to rise in favour of public liberty.
Toward the end of January a plan was formed for taking Fort Independence, near Kingsbridge, and by so doing, to obtain a pas. sage into New-York island. About 4000 militia of the Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New-York states, in four divisions, under .! generals Heath, Wouster, Parsons and Lincoln, were destined :: for the service. Gen. Heath was commander in chief. They marched, the division under Heath from White-Plains--under Wooster and Parsons from New-Rochelle--and under Lincoln from toward Tarry-town. All met on the heights about and near Kingsbridge. The fort had but a trifling garrison, which could have made no effectual resistance, had a vigorous push been in-stantiy made; and the men were in spirits for the attempt. in this way only could it be carried, was defence sttempted, as the Americans had no other artillery than three field-pieces. With these they fired a number of shots at eighty or a hundred Hessians, and a few light-horse, who collected on the other side of Haerlem river ; the Hessians were thrown into a momentary confusion, but soon formed again. Gen. Heath demanded a surrender of the fort, and threatened in case of non-compliance. The threat way disregarded. The troops were employed chiefly in picking up tories, and in foraging and taking stores that had been in the pos
possession of the enemy, till more artillery should arrive from Peek's-kill which a council of war had agreed to send for. About nine days from the first appearance of the Americans before the - fort, the artillery came to hand, and consisted of one brass 24 pounder, and two howitzers. The twenty-four pounder was fired twice, when the carriage broke ; and a few shells were thrown without any execution. A great number of teanis were then employed in carrying off forage, &c. The enemy who had been rein forced during these delays, sallied out, but were repulsed: soon after the Americans retired, upon a report that some ships were gone up the North - River. Gen Heath's conduct was censured by rnen of sense and judgment, who werc with him on the expedition. It was fraught with so much caution, that the army was disappointed, and in some degree disgraced. His summons, ashe did not fulfil his threats, was idle and farcical, and tended to bring upon all of them the ridicule of their eneinies. The Americans suffered mucli from the weather, and not less from the failure of the expedition. Many of them afterward crossed the North-River, and proceeded to Morristown. • About the time this fruitless expedition commenced, and three days before gen. Washington's proclamation, plundering had become so prevalent among the Ainerican troops, that his excellency had inserted in general orders " The general prohibits, both in the militia and continental troops, in the most possitive terms, the infamous practices of plundering the inhabitants, under the specious pretence of their being tories. It is our business to give protection and support to the poor distressed inhabitants, not to multiply and increase their calamities. After this order, any officer found plundering the inhabitants under the pretence of their being torics, may expect to be punished in the severest manner. The adjutant general to furnish the commanding officer of cach division with a copy of these orders, who is to circulate copies among his troops immediately.” You will regret, that while the British and Hessians plunder the Americans upon the plea of their being rebels ; these should plunder their own countrymen upon the plea of their being tories. Humanity and good sense should dictate a different line of conduct, from a belief, that men of opposite sentiments may act conscientiously, while taking contrary parts in a civil contest. · Near upon 2000 of the British went on a foraging party from Amboy. They attacked the American guards and drove them five or six miles. When the latter were reinforced by gen. Maxwell, with about 1400 men, chiefly militia, the others retreated with such precipitation, as to be able to return but two fires, and left behind them six of their men prisoners and two dead.