Abbildungen der Seite



While this sudden invasion had been engrossing the attention of Washington, the expedition against North Carolina had been commenced by Lord Cornwallis. He was met by stronger resistance than had been shown in South Carolina. The people were of a different race, being chiefly Presbyterian Scotch-Irish, who were determined to stand for their rights. The country favoured them; so much of it consisted of wide dismal swamps. These seemed impassable to strange armies, but in the centre of them were broad green “savannahs," or fertile plains, to which the inhabitants, who knew them, could retire for shelter and defence.

A number of North Carolinians, following a man called Sumter, armed themselves with curious weapons of all sorts“old mill-saws were converted into broad-swords; knives, at the ends of poles, served for lances, while the country housewives gladly gave up their pewter dishes to be melted down and cast into bullets for such as had fire-arms. The gallant exploits of Sumter were emulated in other parts of the country; and the partisan war thus commenced was carried on with an audacity, that soon obliged the enemy to call in their outposts, and collect their troops in large masses.”

De Kalb's reinforcements were delayed on account of the want of provisions. On the 25th of July General Gates joined him, and took the command. He ordered the army to march on, in spite of the want of provisions; and for some time the subsistence of the soldiers, in their march through the dreary swamps, was on the lean wild cattle which they occasionally killed in the woods, and when they could not get these, on green Indian corn, unripe apples, and peaches.

Lord Rawdon, a brave young English officer, had, by the orders of Lord Cornwallis, taken his stand at Camden ; and Lord Cornwallis joined him with 3,000 men. There was a battle at Camden, which resulted in the defeat of the Americans, and the death of the brave Baron de Kalb.

Gates, no longer vain-glorious and conceited, wrote deprecatingly of his defeat to Washington: "If I can yet render good service to the United States, it will be necessary it should be seen that I have the support of Congress and your Excellency; otherwise, some men may think they please my superiors by blaming me, and thus recommend themselves to favour. But you, sir, will be too generous to lend an ear to such men, if such there be, and will show your greatness of soul rather by protecting than slighting the unfortunate."

In October General Gates was superseded in command of the southern army by General Greene ; but we read of him in November, gathering some of his scattered men round him at Hillsborough, humbled and sad, but greater in heart and courage than in the successful days of Saratoga. A deep trouble came on him at this time, in the death of his only son; and the letter that Washington wrote to him, of sympathy, and assurance of his undiminished confidence in his zeal and capacity, and his readiness to give him the command of the left wing of his army as soon as he could join him, showed him that his trust in the greatness of Washington's soul was not unfounded. It is said that Gates was found walking up and down his room in the greatest agitation, pressing this letter to his lips; and when he could find words, he declared that it had given him greater comfort than he had ever hoped to feel again.

In July the French fleet arrived off Rhode Island. Sir Henry Clinton made a plan for cutting them off before they

[blocks in formation]

could land their troops and unite with the Americans ; but he failed to hinder their landing, and was only successful in blockading the fleet in Newport harbour. The French army had to stay to defend the fleet, so that both were practically useless to the Americans for some time.

We have now to turn to one of the saddest stories in the annals of the American War; and as it is an essential part of the history of Washington, it will be necessary to give it somewhat in detail.

General Benedict Arnold had been left in command at Philadelphia when Sir Henry Clinton had quitted that town. His wounds unfitted im for more active service, and unfortunately for him, his life in Philadelphia was not of the best kind for such a character as his. He became very luxurious and extravagant, and by his foolish conduct incurred the blame of Washington and Congress. The commander's sentence of reprimand was very kindly expressed. He said, “Our profession is the chastest of all. Even the shadow of a fault tarnishes the lustre of our finest achievements. I reprehend you for having forgotten that, in proportion as you had rendered yourself formidable to our enemies, you should have been guarded and temperate in your deportment towards your fellow-citizens. Exhibit anew those noble qualities which have placed you on the list of our most valued commanders. I will myself furnish you, as far as it may be in my power, with opportunities of regaining the esteem of your country."

But, mildly as this was expressed, Arnold resented it deeply. He had just married the daughter of a Royalist, and his heart began to turn towards the Royalist cause. The want of stability and real greatness became apparent in his character. He had been an adventurer from the first, a man loving himself more than his country; and now that matters looked so unfavourable for America, he may have thought it safest to attach himself to that which he believed to be the winning side. Whatever the cause of his treachery may have been, the fact was that he commenced a correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, signing his letters

Gustavus," and giving him all the information that he could about the American army. Sir Henry kept up the correspondence on his side by his aide-de-camp, Major John André, who also wrote in a disguised hand, and signed himself “ John Anderson.”

Washington, all unsuspecting the good faith of the man who had fought so bravely for America, gave Arnold the command of the fort at West Point, on the Hudson River, north of New York. It was an important post, and one that required vigilant guard, as it was the key to the highlands, and to the upper part of the Hudson. Arnold, for his own purposes, had eagerly sought this charge ; and in August he took his place, writing to Sir Henry Clinton at the same time that he would betray the fort to him after Washington had taken his forces to King's Bridge, where he intended to concert with the French troops a plan for attacking New York.

Arnold then told the English general that he would wish to have a personal interview with André, in order to arrange the final details of his treachery; he required money to get him out of his difficulties, and requested that the price of his betrayal should be sent to him by André. André came to him at night from the English ship Vulture, which was lying in the Hudson River. The meeting took place in a thicket at the foot of a mountain



called the Long Clove. When the two men parted, Arnold gave André a pass :

“Permít Mr. John Anderson to pass the guards to the White Plains, or below if he chooses, he being on public business, by my direction.

B. ARNOLD." He also gave him plans of the works and defences at West Point for Sir Henry Clinton, which he made him hide between his stockings and his feet. They parted when it was nearly daybreak; but the boatman who had brought him refused to take André back to the Vulture, and it was necessary for him, on horseback and with a guide, to make his way to New York. He put aside his military coat, and dressed in a citizen's dress; and in this disguise, with the fatal

papers in his boots, set out on his way.

He was attacked by three soldiers on the road. At first he thought they belonged to the Royalist cause, and confessed that he was a British officer ; he soon found that they were American militia-men, and that he was a prisoner. It was in vain that he produced Arnold's pass; they had searched him and found the plans in his boots, and said directly that he was a spy. They took him to Colonel Jameson, commanding at North Castle, who caused him to be safely secured ; on looking at the plans, which had no name attached to them, he sent them at once to Washington, and at the same time wrote in all good faith to Arnold, at West Point, giving an account of the capture of André.

Washington, meanwhile, had been to Hartford, in Connecticut, to meet the French commander, and had told Arnold that he would call at West Point on his way back. Arnold was expecting him to breakfast at his house, which was on the banks of the river, on the opposite side to West Point. Washington was on his way thither with the Marquis de

« ZurückWeiter »