« ZurückWeiter »
so great a diminuation, that joined with those present of the state militia, the whole made but about 820 men. General Robert Howe, who commanded the Amaricans, had taken his station on the main road between the landing-place and Savannah, with the river on his left, and a swamp in front, extended beyond his right flank, The British advanced till within a few hundred yards of the American army, when Campbell maneuvred so as to cherish an opinion that he meant to attack their left. For that purpose he ordered the first battalion of the 71st to form on the right of the road, thereby to impress a full idea of his design. ing to extend his front in that quarter. At the same time a considerable part of the royal army was detached to cross the swamp so high up as to get into the rear of the Americans. Chance had thrown into the hands of Campbell, a negro, who knew a private path through the swamp, by which he promised to iead the troops without observation or difficulty. At length the British commander, presuming that the detachment had got effectually round upon the rear of the American, suddenly ad. vanced, and Howe ordered an inmediate retreat. A few mi. nutes delay would have made it impossible, and it was then only practicable in the face and under the fire of that part of the British army which had cffected its passage through the swamp. A small body of about a hundred Georgia militia had been previ. ously posted in the rear of the barracks near Savannah, which made some opposition to the British as they were issuing from the swamp, but was soon compelled to retreat, and its commander col. Walton, was wounded and taken prisoner. The Americans retreated with precipitation and in disorder. The British pursued with spirit and rapidity. No victory was ever more complete. Thirty-eight officers, and 415 non-commissioned and privates, 48 pieces of cannon, 23 morters, the fort with its ammunition and stores, the shipping in the river, a large quantity of provisions, with the capital of Georgia were all in the space of a few hours in the possession of the conquerors. The British pur. sued the Americans through the town of Savannah. In the im. petuosity of the pursuit, some of the inhabitants who had not been in the action, were bayonetted in the streets several were killed or wounded in their flight, and a large number, finding their secape impracticable without swimming a deep watery swamp were obliged to sue for quarters. The Americans saved three field-pieces out of four : but many lost their arms. That part of the army which escaped retreated up the river Savannah to Zubly's ferry, and crossed over into South-Carolina.*
* Dr. Ramsey's Hifory of the Revolution in South-Carolina, vol. I. p. 1.-6.
id upon thinities so with much
No place in similar circumstances suffered less by depredation than Savannah did upon this occasion. A strong circumstantial testimony, that those enormities so frequently attributed to the licentiousness of the soldiers, should with much more justice be charged to the indefensible conduct of their superiors; whether by a previous relaxation of discipline, an immediate participation in the guilt, or a no less culpable sufferance of the enormity. About the time that the embarkation took place at New York, general Prevost marched from East-Florida into the southern parts of Georgia. The royal troops, in traversing the desert that separates the one from the other, were obliged to live for several days on oysters. After encountering many difficulties, they heard of colonel Campbell's arrival and success. They at length appeared before and surrounded the town and fort of Sunbury. The garrison, consisting of about two hundred men, made a show of defence, and gave the general the trouble of opening trenches; but all hope of relief being cut off by the tall of the capital, they surrendered at discretion. The general marched to Savannah, and took the commmand of the combined forces from New-York and St. Augustine, and consequently of Georgia. Previous to his arrival a proclamation had been issued to encourage the inhabitants to come in and submit to the conquerors, with promises of protection, on condition that “with their arms they would support royal government.” Numbers submitted, but the determined republicans fled up into the western parts of the country, or into South Carolina."
The attention of congress and the public has been much engaged about Mr. Silas Deane, since his return from France. You will recollect what has been written relative to his recal.Congress, in August, desired him to give, from his memory, a general account of his whole transactions in France, from the timne of his first arrival, as well as a particular state of the funds of congress, and the commercial transactions in Europe, especially with Mr. Beaumarchais. They appear not to have been thoroughly satisfied; and to have had apprehensions lest there had been a misapplication of the public money. Mr. Deane seems not to have relished his situation; but to have been desirous of changing it by returning to France, or exciting a general resentment against congress. He had not yet accounted for his expenditure of public money; and had carefully left his papers and vouchers behind him, though he had the opportunity of d'Estaing's fleet to procure them a safe transportation to America. On the 30th of November he addressed a letter to congress, signifying his intentions of returning to France, and pressing to have his affairs brought to some conclusion. December
the ist, congress resolved, “ that after to-morrow they will meet two hours at least each evening, Saturday's excepted, beginning at six o'clock, until the present state of their foreign affairs be fully considered.” On the 4th Mr. Deane wrote again to them, acquainting them of his having received their notification of the resolve, and expressed his thanks; and yet, on the day following, he published in the newspapers, An address to the free and virtuous citizens of America, dated November, but without any day of the month. The address threw the public into a convulsion, and made them jealous and uneasy; for it expressed a necessity of appealing to them, and conimunicating that information against which their representatives had shut their ears-declared, or insinuated, that their public servants, Messrs. Arthur and William Lee, were deficient in abilities, application and fidelity, and were universally disgustful to the French nation-intimated a design to Icad them into a breach of their national faith and honor, solemnly pledged to their ally--reflected upon the integrity of some leading members in congress-and strongly hinted at further important information to be brought forward if there should be occasion. Mr. Deane, by publishing his address on the Saturday, secured the advantage of the Sunday for its being more universally read in the city and neighborhood, while fres! from the press, than it would otherwise have been.' 'In the morning of the day when it appeared, and before congress (as must be supposed) were acquainted with its contents, they assigned Monday evening for hearing hini, and ordered his being 110tified to attend. The intervening space gave the members an opportunity of perusing it, so that when they met on Monday evenjug at six o'clock, they resolved, “That Silas Deane, esq. report to congress, in writing, as soon as may be, his agency of their aifairs in Europe, together with any intelligence respecting their foreign affairs, which he may judge proper; that Mr. Deane be informed, that if he hath any thing to comniunicate to congress in the interim, of immediate importance, he shall be heard tomorrow evening at six o'clock.” Mr. Deane attending, was called in, and the foregoing resolutions were read. Thus were the ears of congress opened to him; but their good disposition was not improved for the communication of that wondrous information which he had threatened to give in his address. The conduct of Mr. Deane, in his address to the public, was the subject of debate in congress; 'many members were for having no more concern with him at present, but for leaving him to the public, as he had appealed to them, till he had done with them and they with him. They judged that the honor of congress bound them to this measure; but others apprehended that discontents would
· arise from a supposed inattention, and were therefore inclined
to a different line of conduct. This division of sentiment on what might be supposed the honor of the house, occasioned Mr. Laurens, who adhered to the former opinion, to resign the chair on the oth of December. The next day John Jay, csq. Was elected president.
Such was the clamor rapid}y raised, and the torture occasioned through the United States by Mr. Deane's publication, that Mr. Payne, under the former signature of Common Sense, endeavored to allay them in an address to him. This led on to further publications, pro and con, in wbich Mr. Payne made a conspicuous figure, and had great advantage from being secretary to the committee of congress for foreign affairs. They have brought to light several important secrets, and particularly the following: The commissioners, Messrs. Franklin, Arthur Lee and Deane, in their joint letter of February 16, 1778, say, “We hear Mr. Beaumarchais has sent over a person to demand a large sum of money of you, on account of arms, ammunition, &c. We think it will be best for you to leave th:t matter to be settled here (in France) as there is a mixture of public and privaic, which yout cannot so well develope.” [Though Mr. Deane was privy to Mr. Francey's coming, and had even by letter recommended the business he came upon, yet in this joint letter he appears to know no more of the matter than the other two.] In the spring of 1776, a subscription was raised in France to send a present to America of £.200,000 sterling, in money, arms and ammuniti. on. All that the suppliers wanted to know was, through what channel it should be remitted, and Mr. Beaumarchais was fixed upon as their agent. [If this subscription had not the pecuniary. support, it undoubtedly had the countenance of the crown, for the despotic police of France would otherwise have immediately crushed it.) Mr. Beaumarchais appears to have been employed by the subscribers to offer the supplies purchased by their inoney, as a present to America, and a contract was made for the freightage of them, they were sent in the Amphatrite, Seine, and Mercury, two years ago. The duplicates of the dispatches of October 6 and 7, 1777, which should have arrived by captain Folger, but who had received blank papers in their stead, were brvught over with the treaty of alliance by Mr. Simeon Deane, These show, that had the dispatches arrived safely, congresswoud have had a clue to guide them in settling with Mr. Francey, as Mr. Beaumarchais' agent, and have escaped paying for the present. Beside the general information communicated by the three conmissioners in their joint letter of October the 7th, Mr. Arthur Lee, in his single one of the preceding day, gave a ciicuuistantial account in what manner the present was first offered, and de. clared " That for the money and military stores already given, no remittance will ever be required." The duplicates arrived a month too late, congress having on the 8th of April settled the business on which Mr. Francey was sent. While the pack. ets for congress and colonel R. H. Lee, containing the before mentioned two letters, were filled up with blank white paper, a large handsome packet, directed to Mr. Hancock, president when the dispatches were written, beside one to Mr. Robert Morris, and another to Mr. Silas Deane's brother Barnaby, came in perfect safety by captain Folger. ·
Many are now very suspicious that the parties who possessed themselves of the missing dispatches, had a knowledge of their contents; and that Mr. Deane is capable of informing the public who they were, and what advantages they were to enjoy from Mr. Francey's success through the loss of the dispatches and the non-arrival of the duplicates in season. The public at large and their representatives in congress, were much divided by the publications relating to Mr. Deane. The army in general sided with him. Their attachment was increased by his declaring_" I am fully confident that every intrigue and cabal formed against our illustrious commander in chief, will prove as ineffectual as those against Dr. Franklin." This declaration brought forward to public view, part of Mr. Deane's letter to the foreign committee, dated Paris, December 6, 1776—"! submit the thought to you, whether if you could engage a great general of the highest character in Europe, such for instance, as prince Ferdinand or M(arshal). Béroglio). or others of equal rank, to take the lead of your armies, such a step would not be politic, as it would give a character and credit to your military, and strike perhaps a greater terror in your enemies. I only suggest the thoughts, and leave you to confer with baron (Kalbe) on the subject at large.
[Jan. 5.) Mr. Gerard was so alarmed at the publications of · Mr. Payne, that he presented a memorial to congress upon the occasion, by which they were led into the consideration of them. Various motions were made respecting the secretary; among the rest one for hearing him the next day, which being negatived, and the negative communicated to him, he wrote on the 8th a letter to congress, by which he resigned his office of secretary to the committee of foreign affairs. Two days after the French minister sent a second memorial; and on the twelfth congress “resolved unanimously, that the president be directed to assure the said minister, that the congress do fully, in the clearest and most explicit manner, disavow the publication referred to in the