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Thus are the troops under lord Cornwallis watched, straitened, and obliged to undergo the hardships of a most severe and unremitting duty; though he has been strengthened by a brigade of British, and some companies of grenadiers and light infantry from Rhode Island. The order for these troops was sent to lord Percy, gen. Clinton being gone to England. Lord Percy did not immediately comply : but returned for answer, that the enemy were collecting a large force near Providence, of which circumstance he supposes gen. Howe was unacquainted ; that he thought it his duty to represent this matter, and to add, that he apprehended it would be dangerous to the service there, to send away so large a corps. Gen. ifowe replied, that lord Percy knew the consequence of disobedience of orders, trial by court martial, and certain sentence of being broke; but that he was inclined to show his lordship all the indulgence that his services deserved, at the same time he insisted upon his orders being punctually obeyed. His lordship's feelings have been so hurt by this reply, that it is apprehended, he will not remain long in a situation that subjects him to gen. Howe.
The American recruiting service went on most wretchedly. The returns which gen. Washington received from different quarters, were ot so extraordinary a nature, that he suspected the most abominable fraud and embezzlement of the public money, The accounts of desertion almost surpassed belief, and afforded him the highest probability that officers were tempted, by the great bounty allowed, to exhibit a number of pretended recruits, that were never in reality inlisted. But the evil he complained of, was owing greatly to the prevailing method of inlisting men, viz. the paying of them the bounty, and then suffering them to ramble about the country, by which means they inlisted wit!ı half a dozen officers. Instead of being formidable by the middle of March, he wrote, [March 6.] “ After the fiftcenth, when gen. Lincoln's militia leave us, we shall only have the remains of the five Virginia regiments, who do not annount altogether to inore than five or six hundred men, and two of the other continental battalions very weak. The rest of our army is composed of small parties of militia from this state and Pennsylvania; and little dependence can be put upon the militia, as they come and go when they please. If the enemy do not move it will be a miracle ; nothing but ignorance of our numbers, and situation, can protect us." He has since owned, that during the latter part of this last winter, he and his army have remained at the mercy of the royal troops, with sometimes scarcely a sufficient body of men to mount the ordinary guards, liable every moment to be dissipated, if the enemy had only thought proper to march 2VOL. II.
gainst them. The general's wholc force, including militia, at Morristown and the several out-posts, amounted often to not more than 1500 men; and it has been asserted, upon apparently good authority, that he repeatedly could not muster more at Morristown than between three and four hundred. In writing officially upon the subject to the governorand council of Connecă ticut the representation he gave of affairs drew tears from the eyes of those who heard the letter read. While gen. Washington was at this low ebb with his army, gentlemen of five thousand pounds fortune or more, and many others who were mer of substance, though not equal to that, did duty as centinels at his doors and elsewhere.
Though gen. Howe made no capital stroke at the commander in chief of the Americans; yet he concerted an operation against the pust which gen. M’Dougall occupied, and where a considera able quantity of provisions and stores was deposited. " A detach nent of 500 men under col. Bird was convoyed by the Brune frigate to Peek's-kill, near fifty miles from New York. They landed on the 23d of March. As the general had but 250 'men fit for duty, insted of 500 to guard the place, which lay in a bottom and was not tenable, he fired the principal store-houses, and then quitted the town in order to occupy the important pass through the highlands, on the east side of the river, about two miles and a half distant. The fire rendered useless the only wharf where it was practicable to embark the remaining stores in convenient time, which made it expedient to destroy the greater part. Col. Bird having done it, and hearing a reinforcement was expected by the Americans, re-embarked the same day. The loss of rum, molasses, flour, biscuit, pork, beef, wheat, oats, hay, tallow, iron pots, camp kettles, canteens, bowls, nails, waggons and carts, barracks, store-houses, sloops and pettiaugers la. den with provisions, was very considerable, far bcyond what was given out by the Americans, though not of that importance and magnitude, as to answer the expectations of gen. Howe. Gen. Washington had repeatedly guarded the comniissary against suffering any large quantities of provisions to lie near the water, in such places as were accessable to the enemy's shipping ; but he had not been properly attended to.
The want of muskets occasioned a delay in forwarding the new troops from the Massachusetts: but many of the militia from that state were persuaded to remain at Morristown for some weeks longer than the fixed time of service. Fifteen hundred of the new troops would have been upon their march, but the general court could not supply them with arms. The perplexity occa. sioned by this circumstance was however of short continuance.
On the day of its conimencement or the following, a vessel of fourteen guns from France arrived at Portsmouth with 364 cases) containing 11,987 stand : she had also on board a thousand barrels of powder, 11,000 gun-flints, 48 bales of woollens, and a small quantity of handkerchiefs, cottons, linens, and other arti: cles. Congress were under a similar distress with the Massachus setts general court, as to the procuring of arms for gen. Washington's army; but obtained a sinilar relief, by the arrival of a vessel, [March 24.) with 10,000 stand, beside a great number of gun-locks. These seasonable arrivals, will furnish an ample supply of arms : the main difficulty will now be, to get meri to use them., Dr. Franklin arrived at Nantz the 13th of De; çember.. * The brilliancy of the successes, which have attended the Ancricar army since last Christmas, and their most happy consequences in changing the complexion of the times, must raise the chafacter of gen. Washington as highly in Europe as it had done in America ; and may lead sanguine spirits, who are strangers to the real circumstances of the country, to imagine that he will soon be able to drive all before him, but it will require his utmost abilities to act in so defensive a manner, as to secure him. self from injury, and at the same time frustrate the offensive plars of the enemy. He is indeed to have the assistance of a body of cavalry, which will be of considerable advantage...
You will scarce think it beneath remarking, that when the royal army had. possessed themselves of the Jerseys, and the American affairs were at the lowest ebb, there was not a single state, Jr capital town or city (if not wholly in the power of the enem iny) that made advances toward submission. But in the month of January, the tories rose to a great head, in the counties of Somerset and Worcester, in the state of Maryland ; so that in the beginning of February, the congress were obliged to employ several battalions (before they could march forward to join gen, Washington) in suppressing the insurgents,
Committees, from the four New-England-states, had a meeting ; since which their proceedings were laid before congress; and the last have resolved, (Feb. 15,] “That the plan for regulating the price of labor, of manufactures, and internal produce within those states, and of goods imported from foreign parts, except military stores, be referred to the consideration of the other United States; and that it be recommended to them to adopt such measures, as they shall think most expedient to remedy the evils occasioned by the present Auctuating and exorbitant. prices of the articles aforesaid :-That for this purpose it be recommended to the legisiatures, or in their recess, to the executa
tive powers of the states of New York, New-Jersey, Pennsylva. nia, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, to appoint commission. ers to meet at Yorktown in Pennsylvania, on the third Monday in March next, to consider of and form a system of regulation adapted to those states, to be laid before the respective legislatures of each states, for their approbation :-That for the like purpose it be recommended to the legislatures, or executive powers in the recess of the legislatures of the states of North-Carolina, South-Carolina and Georgia, to appoint commissioners to meet at Charleston in South-Carolina on the first Monday in May next.” Some of the New-England states had passed acts. for regulating prices, before these resolutions.
On the 27th, congress adjourned to meet at Philadelphia the following Wednesday. Before adjourning they recommended to the several states, the passing of laws to put a stop to the distilling of grain.
Congress having disrnissed doctor Samuel Stringer, director of the hospital in the northern department of the army, (at the same day they dismissed Dr. Morgan) gen. Scuyler took of fence at it, and expressed himself unguardedly in some of his official letters: upon that it was “ Resolved, (Mar. 15.] That as congress proceeded to the dismission of Dr. Stringer, upon reasons satisfactory to themselves, gen. Scuyler ought to have known it to be his duty to have acquiesced therein :--That the suggestion in gen. Scuyler's letter to. congress, that it was a com. pliment due to him to have been advised of the reasons of Dis. Stringer's dismission, is highly derogatory to the honor of congress; and that the president be desired to acquaint gen. Scuyler, that it is expected his letters for the future, be written in a style more suitable to the dignity of the representative body of these free andindependent states, and to his own character of their officer :-Resolved, That it is altogether improper and inconsistent with the dignity of this congress, to interfere in disputes subsisting among the officers of the army, which ought to be settled, unless they can be otherwise accommodated, in a court martial, agreeable to the rules of the army; and that the express sion in gen. Scuyler's letter of the fourth of February—“That he confidently expected congress would have done him that justice, which it was in their power to give, and which he humbly conceives they ought to have done"--were to say the least, illadvised and highly indecent.”
[Jan. 24.] « Resolved, That gen. Washington be informed that it never was the intention of congress that he should be bound by the majority of voices in a council of war contrary to his own judgment:--That the commander in chief in every de.
partment be made acquainted, that though he may consult the general officers under him, yet he is not bound by their opinion; but ought finally to direct every measure according to his own judgment." . In the month of January gen. Howe discharged all the privates who were prisoners in New-York. Great complaints were made of the horrid usage the Americans met with after they were captured. The garrison of Fort Washington surrendered by capitulation to gen. Howe the 16th of November. The terins were, that the fort should be surrendered, the troops be consi. dered prisoners of war, and that the American officers should keep their baggage and side arms. These articles were signed, and afterward published in the New-York papers. Major Otho Holland Williams, of Rawlings's rifle regiment, in doing his duty that day, unfortunately fell into the hands of the enemy. The haughty, imperious deportment of the officers, and the insolent scurrility of the soldiers of the British army soon dispelled his hopes of being treated with lenity. Many of the American officers were plundered of their baggage and robbed of their side arms, hats, cockades, &c, and otherwise grossly illtreated. He and three companions were (on the third day) put on board the Baltic Merchant, an hospital ship, then lying in the Sound. The wretchedness of his situation was in soine degree alleviated by a small pittance of pork and parsnip, which a good natured sailor spared him from his own mess. The fourth day of their captivity, Rawlings, Hanson, M'Intire, and himself, all wounded officers, were put into one common dirt cart; and dragged through the city of New York, as objects of derision, reviled as rebels, and treated with the utmost contempt. From the cart they were set down at the door of an old wuste house (theremains of Hamden-hall) near Bridewell,which because of the openness and filthiness of the place, he had a few months before refused as barracks for his privates; but now was willing to accept for himself and friends, in hopes of finding an intermission of the fatigue and persecution they had perpetually suffered. Some provisions were issued to the prisoners in the afternoon of that day; what quantity he could not declare ; but it was of the worst quality he evei, tili then, saw made use of. He was informed the allowance consisted of six ounces of pork, one pound of biscuit and some peas per day for each nan, and two bushels and a half of sea-coal per week for the officers, to each fire-place. These were admitted on parole, and lived generally in waste houses. The privates, in the coldest season of the year, were close confined in churches, sugar-houses and other open buildings (which admitted all kinds of weather and consequenti