Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

'77s;set-vice of the United States: That there be two ranks of inspectors,- under the direction of the inspector general, the first to superintend two or more brigades, and the other to be charged with the inspection of one brigade: That gen. Washington be authorized to appoint such persons to be inspectors and brigade inspectors for the main army, as he shall think best qualified to execute the several duties of those offices." The commander in chief and the baron being in perfect Unison, the discipline of the army has beeh mightily improved, and the exercise of the battalions has become Uniform. In order to establish these points, the officers were formed into a body, and when completely exercised and instructed, were put upon doing the like by their men. When the baron manœuvred the battalions, the brigades, the divisions, Of the army, he explained matters to the rerespective commanding officers, and taught them to understand the meaning and intention of the various move* mehts. Thfe office of inspector general wa3 one of the regulations iii view for the reform of the army, some time before Conway's appointment: and the foreign officers, Who had no commissions, and no commands, and who were of ability, were to have been recom1 mended, and particularly baron D'Arendt, with whom the idei, originated.

The sufferings of the army for want of provision, led the congress to think at length of changing the com*missary general; they therefore directed the president to Write to col. Jeremiah Wadrwofth of Connecticut, re*questing^ his attendance on shatters of consequence. WhGh informed of his arrival, they appointed a committee of four to confer with him, and inquire whether

he he would undertake the office of commissary general of 1778* purchases. The colonel was not a stranger to the nature of the business, nor the way in which it was necessary to conduct it, for the service of the army. fie considered the matter thoroughly; laid his own plan; and informed the committee upon what terms he would undertake the conducting of that department: from these he would not recede. He would not be tied up by any regulating acts, but would be left at liberty to purchase as he was able. After repeated conferences, ff Congress proceeded to the election of a commissary general of purchases, and the ballots being taken, Jeremiah j Wadsworth esq; was unanimously elected," on the 9th of April. In five days more, upon the. resumption os the consideration of the report of the committee appointed to confer with him, they resolved, '< That the commissary general of purchases have full power to appoint and remoye every officer in his department;" which was followed by various other resolutions, and closed with one declaring, "That all former regulations of congress, relative to the department of the commissary general of purchases, which interfere with the foregoing resolutions, be repealed." Thus they abandoned that plan, which induced their first commissary general, col. Joseph Trumbull, to quit the department; and in its operation, had nearly destroyed their army,

[graphic]

Congress began the year with authorizing a committee to take every necessary measure for the immediate relief of the sick soldiers, and to report whatever alteration in -the medical department might be requisite. They soon after recommended it to the clergy of all denominations in the middle district, to solicit charitable donations of

F 3 woollens

1778.woollens and linens, made or unmade, for the service of the sick; many of whom were lost for want of these articles. They also ordered doctor Shippen, the director general of the hospitals, and doctor Rush, physician general of the middle district, to attend them on the 26th of January. A committee of five upon their arrival was chosen to send for, and to hear them, and to report specially. The afternoon of the 27th, and the next morning, were spent in that service. A gentleman, who could not but know what passed, wrote on the 28th—F

*c Doctor R says in a letter, that one half of the

soldiers that died last year, ferijhed by the present medical establishment.—r A shocking black picture indeed doctor Rush painted-^but by all accounts it is a just one. It is a very melancholy reflection, that buildings erected for the relief and comfort of the sick and wounded, should become tombs to them. A bad system and a bad administration, have produced great mischiefs in the hospital. Peculation and embezzlement of stores, prevail as much in this department as in others. I do not . allege these things without authority or proof. They are facts too well authenticated." Another, in his correspondence, expressed himself thus upon matters-?—" The wealth of worlds could not support the expence of the medical department alone, above two or three years. There is but one right system for a military hospital, and that is the one made use of by the British army, That would save half a million a year to the continent, and, what is more, would produce perfect satisfaction and happiness." On the 30th, Pr. Rush requested leave to resign, which was accepted. Congress, on the 6th of February, came to various resolutions, upon the report

of of the first committee, for the better regulating the '778. hospitals of the United States. On the 25th, Dr. Rush sent a letter from Princeton to gen. Washington, containing a well-attested certificate from Bethlehem, setting forth, that the wine allowed the hospital was so adulterated as to have none of the qualities of Madeira—that none of the patients under the care of the signers eat of venison, poultry, and wild fowl, (unless purchased by themselves) and that large quantities were purchased by the director general—that the director-entered the hospital but once during six weeks residence in Bethlehern, though the utmost distress and mortality prevailed—that the sick, were too much crowded, and wanted blankets, shirts, straw, and other necessaries—that there died in the place two hundred soldiers (eight-tenths of them by a putrid fever caught in the hospital) within three months. Dr. Rush mentioned, that Dr. Shippen, in the height of the mortality, wrote to congress—" No satal disease prevails in the hospitals, very few- die, and the hospitals are in very good order." He said—" Our director general was employed in selling large quantities of Madeira wine, brown and loaf sugar, &c. (which had been transported through the country in hospital waggons, and secured as hospital stores) under the name of private property." This, and another letter from the doctor, were read in congress, the third of April, when a committee was appointed and directed to inquire into the charges contained in the letters against doctor Shippen and into his conduct as director general, and to report specially to congress, The diminution of the army by sickness has been very great: and you will easily.conceive whence it was that no more of the sick recovered. The - F 4 --• sickness

«778* sickness of the soldiers, before going to the hospitals, was brought upon them, not altogether through the want of clothes or provision, but of cleanliness In their huts and in the camp. Notwithstanding repeated posi,tive orders enjoining cleanliness, in some places of the camp the stench was intolerable, through the neglect or the want of necessaries.

It has been resolved, that count Puiafki shall raise

- and have the command of an independent corps, to

/ consist of sixty-eight horse and two hundred foot; the

horse to be armed with lances, and the foot equipped

in the manner of light insantry.

No mention has been yet made of one capt. Lee of the light dragoons, a bold enterprising young officer, who, if spared, is like to make a considerable figure; but a resolve of congress leads us to notice him. By the twenty-second of last November, he and his little troop had taken a hundred and two of the enemy prisoners. The whole tenor of his conduct during that campaign proved him to be brave and prudent. He Tendered essential service to his country, and acquired to himself and the corps he commanded, distinguished honor. The congress, to reward his merit, have resolved, (' That capt. H. Lee be promoted to the rank pf major commandant; that he be empowered to augment his present corps by inlistments to two troops of hprse, to. act as a separate corps." These inlistments are not to be made from among the prisoners. The pommander in phief opposes every thing of that kind, and fras written—" We have always complained against fiq^ and still do, for obliging or permitting the prisoners in his hands to inlist, as an unwarrantable procedure,

« ZurückWeiter »