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1778.Lovcll belonged to the Massachusetts. Greene who commanded in the attack did himself the highest honor by the judgment and bravery he exhibited. He attended strictly to the action the whole time, watching the movements of the enemy, and where to throw in the ne cessary reinforcements. Gen. Sullivan the next morning received advice, that lord Howe had again sailed, that a fleet was off Block Island, and that d'Estaihg could not come so soon as he expected, on which it was concluded to evacuate Rhode Island. The sentries of both armies being within 400 yards of each other, the A greatest attention was requisite. To cover the design 30. of retreating, a number of tents were brought forward, and pitched in fight of the enemy, and the whole army employed in fortifying the camp. At the fame time the heavy baggage and stores were falling back and crossing through the bay. At dark the tents were struck, the light baggage and troops passed down, and by twelve o'clock the main army had crossed. It was about that time when the marquis de la Fayette arrived from Boston. He was most sensibly mortified that he was not in the action. That he might not be out of. the way in cafe of one, he had rode from the island to Boston, near 70 miles distant, in seven hours, and returned in six and a half. He got back time epough to bring off the picquets, and other parties, that covered the retreat of the army, which he did in excellent order: not a man was left behind, nor the smallest article lost. The honor arising from so good a retreat, though great, did not compensate for the sore disappointment gen. Sullivan met with,, when in full expectation of taking Newport. The place must have sallen had not count d'Es
filing lest the harbour; or had he returned after chasing i778* lord Howe to a considerable distance. The glory of vanquishing a British squadron, and of obtaining a tri- , irmph over a first rate naval officer, and a country against which he had a personal animosity (though in prospect: only) tempted him as may be thought, into a situation that proved the ruin of the principal object in view, when he steered from before Sandy Hook for Newport, and agreed upon a co-operation with Sullivan's army. The fleet off Block Island was bound for Rhode Island, and had on board Sir Henry Clinton with about 4000 troops. Sir Henry hoped to have effected a landing, so as to have made Sullivan's retreat very precarious, but the latter was completed the night before his arrival. The Sept. day after, Lord Howe, who had changed his course ** upon hearing that d'Estaing had left Rhode Island, arrived off the entrance of Boston port in the evening. Upon observing the position of the French fleet, and .deeming every attempt against them ineligible, he left the Boston coast the next morning: but his appearance in and standing up the bay to the entrance of the port, spread a prodigious alarm. Sir Henry being disappointed, returned for New York; but off New London lest the fleet, with directions to gen. Grey to proceed to Bedford and the neighbourhood, where several American privateers resorted, and a number of captured ships lay. They reached the place of destination on the fifth of 5. September; the troops were immediately landed, and between six in the evening and twelve the following day, destroyed about 70 sail of shipping, beside a number of small craft. They also burnt the magazines, wharfs, stores, warehouses, vessels on the stocks, all the dwelling
1778'houses at McPherson's wharf, and the principal part of the houses at the head of the river, together with the mills and some houses on the east side of the river. Bedford, or as it is frequently called Dartmouth, suffered to the amount of near ao,oool. sterling in ratable property, viz. buildings. The other articles destroyed were worth a much more considerable sum. The troops proceeded from thence to Martha's Vineyard, where they destroyed a few vessels, and made a requisition of the militia arms, the public money, 300 oxen, and 10,000 sheep, which was complied with. The last contribution was a most desirable one, and afforded a grateful repast to thousands upon being safely conveyed to New York.
Here let me close our account of military operations, with an extract from gen. Washington's letter of August the 20th, and then attend to the negotiations of the British commissioners and the acts of congress. His excellency thus expressed himself—" It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years manœuvring and undergoing the strangest vicissitudes, that perhaps ever attended any one contest since the creation, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and that what was the offending party in the beginning, is now reduced td the use of the spade and pick-axe for defence. The, hand of Providence has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to" acknowledge his obligations."
Governor Johnstone, meaning to avail himself of former connections, endeavoured to commence or renew a private correspondence, with several members of con- J778* gress, and other persons of consideration. In his letters to them he used a freedom witli the authority under which he acted, not customary with those intrusted with delegated power, and afforded such a degree of approbation to the conduct of the Americans in the past resistance which they had made, as is seldom granted by negotiators to their opponents. In a letter to Joseph Reed esq; of April the nth, he said—" The man who can be instrumental in bringing us all to act once more in harmony, and to unite together the various powers which this contest has drawn forth, will deserve more from the king and people, from patriotism, humanity and all the tender ties that are affected by the quarrel and reconciliation, than ever was yet bestowed on human kind." On the 16th of June he wrote to Robert Morris esq;—" I believe the men who have conducted the affairs of America uncapable of being influenced by improper motives; but in all such transactions there is risk, and I think that whoever ventures should be secured j ', at the same time, that honor and emolument should naturally follow the fortune of those who have steered the vessel in the storm, and brought her safely to port. I think Washington and the president have a right to every favor that grateful nations can bestow, if they could once more unite our interest, and spare the miseries and TlI„ devastations of war." On Sunday the 21st of June, 21. Mr. Reed received a written message from Mrs. Ferguson, expressing a desire to see him on business, which could not be committed to writing. On his attending in the evening agreeable to her appointment, after some previous conversation, she enlarged upon the great talents
1778* lents and amiable qualities of gov. Johnstone, and added, that in several conversations with her, he had expressed the most favorable sentiments of Mr. Reed; that it was particularly Wished to engage his interest to promote the objects of the British commissioners, viz. a re-union of the two countries, if consistent with his principles and judgment; and that in such case it could not be deemed unbecoming or improper in the British government to take a favorable notice of such conduct; and that in this instance Mr. Reed might have ten thousand pounds sterling, and any office in the colonies in his majesty's gift. Mr. Reed finding an answer was exi pected, replied—" / am not worth 'purchasing, but Jucb as I am the king of Great Britain is not rich enough to do it." However right the principles might be, on which , , this insinuating scheme of conciliation was adopted, its 9. effects were untoward. On the 9th of July, congress ordered—" That all letters received by members of congress from any of the British commissioners or their agents, or from any subject of the king of Great Britain, of a public nature, be laid before congress." The above letters being communicated, and Mr. Reed making a Aug. declaration of what has been above related, congress "* resolved that the fame " cannot but be considered as 1 direct attempts to corrupt and bribe the congress—That / as congress feel, so they ought to demonstrate, the • J. highest and most pointed indignation against such daring and atrocious attempts to corrupt their integrity—And that it is incompatible with the honor of congress to. 'hold any manner of correspondence or intercourse with the said George Johnstone esq; especially to negotiate. with him upon affairs in which the cause .of .liberty is; :.. v can