Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

England with her good offices, and to bring her medi-1779. ation to an issue, in order that we may know whether we are to expect peace or war. This step is looked upon in Europe as immediately necessary. It was the proper object of the message I delivered in February last. I established then (in a private audience) the strong reasons which require, that at the same time and without delay proper terms should be offered to his catholic majesty, in order to reconcile him perfectly to the American interest. I did not conceal, that it was to be feared that any condition inconsistent with the establishment of the alliance which is the binding and only law of the allies, and contrary to the line of conduct which Spain pursued in the course of her mediation, would lead her to drop the mediation, and prevent his catholic majesty by motives of honor and faithfulness from joining in our common cause, and from completing the intended triumvirate. No loss, no unhappy event could be so heavy upon the allies as this. Indeed although the British forces are already kept in check by the combined efforts of France and America, it is nevertheless. evident that the accession of Spain only can give to the alliance a decided superiority adequate to our purposes, and free us from the fatal chance; that a single unlucky event may overturn the balance.”

The committee then taking notice of what' the mi-;. nister had said concerning a tacit asurance of the independence of these states, requested to know his sense concerning the manner in which such tacit assurance could be given; to which he, premising that what he should now fay ought to be considered only as his private sentiments, replied-That the British court would probably endea

your

[ocr errors]

1779. vour to avoid an express acknowledgment by imitating

precedents that had occurred in Europe on similar oc-'
casions, inftancing in the case of the Swiss Cantons, and
of the United Provinces of Holland ; that the mode
adopted in the latter case had been for the arch-dukes,
to whom the king of Spain had transferred his right of
fovereignty, to treat with them as free and independent
ftates: and that with respect to the Cantons, France had
not been able to obtain more for them in the treaty of
Munster, than “ a declaration that they should be in
poffeffion as of full liberty and exemption from the em.
pire, and be in no.manner subject to the jurisdiction
thereof:"--but that in his opinion, the circumstances of
these states, and the manner in which they had con-
ducted their opposition, would justify their expecting a
more full declaration.
- Mr. Gerard by strongly urging congress, in February,
10. come to an ultimatum, that so no promising nego-
tiations might be delayed or obstructed, contributed to-
ward putting the states into a profound neep. They
amused themselves with idle dreams of peace, and hardly
made any exertions for the war. Till about the time
of the above conference, the army scarcely received a
single recruit, though a large part of it dissolved in the
course of last winter and spring, by the expiration of the
term of service for which the men were engaged. Gen.
Washington has a prospect of 1000, or 1500 levies, at
enormous bounties, for nine months from Massachusetts
and Connecticut, which is all the reinforcement he ex-
pects. Inferior in strength to the enemy, he will be
able to do little more than take care of himself; and
guard the communication of the North River. The

W

distressing situation of public affairs led the late president 1979 of congress, Mr. Laurens, to write to his friend~" Let 14... us look around and icquire into the state of the army, the navy, the treasury—the view, is truly affecting; but what is most of all to be deplored is, the torpitude of national virtue. How many men are there who now in secret say, could I have believed it would have come to this, I would --:- I am not of that number.”

Captain Cunningham, who took and carried the Dutch packet into Dunkirk, (Vol. II. p. 453) being captured on board a private armed cutter in the West Indies, was brought to New York, put under a rigorous and ignominious confinement, and ordered to be sent to Great Britain. Congress was induced by, it to order a letter to be written to the British naval commander at 1%. New York, demanding the reasons for the treatment he had met with ; and resolved, that if they had not a fatis. factory answer by the ift of August, one or more persons fould be confined to abide the fate of the said Cunningham, Two days after, congress having well considered the letters before them, giving an account of the devastations of the enemy, and the burning of Fairfield, Norwalk and Bedford, “ Resolved-That the marine committee be and are hereby directed to take the most effectual means to carry into execution the manifesto of October 30, 1778, by burning and destroying the towns belonging to the enemy in Great Britain and the West Indies.”

The operations of war demand our further notice.

A daring and dangerous enterprise against the enemy's. post at. Powle's Hook was committed to major Lee, The object was to throw a lustre upon the American

arms

1779. arms by surprising the posts, and immediately retiring

with suclr prisoners as the major could conveniently make. Did it appear too hazardous, either in the execution or the difficulty of effecting a retreat, he was at liberty tò abandon it. The necessity of making a timely and safe retreat, was strongly inculcated by the commander in chief, and the major was desired to lose no time in attempting to remove or destroy any stores, or even in collecting stragglers. The major, with a party

of 300 Virginians, a troop of dismounted dragoons, and July one company from the Maryland line, proceeded on the 19. service, and very early in the morning, before day light,

completely surprised the post. Major Sutherland the com

mandant, with a number of Hessians, had the good for•*{tune to efcape, by reason of the darkness, to a small block

house on the left of the fort. Major Lee killed about
30 of the enemy, and took 161 prisoners, including 7.
officers, at the expence of about half a dozen men killed
and wounded. In conformity to his orders, he made an.
immediate retreat without tarrying to destroy either bar-
racks or artillery. The approach of day, and the
vicinity of the enemy's main body, rendered it absolutely
neceffary. Lord Stirling took judicious measures to
forward the enterprise, and to secure the retreat of Lee's
party. This affair for the size of it, may be ranged":
with the most heroic actions of the war ; considering the
peculiar position of Powle's-Hook, and its being garri-**
soned by 200 men..

The expeditions carrying on against Penobscot' by
the Massachusetts, and against the Mohawks by the
United States, will be related when brought to a close. : :
Gen. Sullivan being called away to command the latter,

gen,

gen. Gates left Bofton and went to Providence - In 1979. May a number of the troops under him,mutinied and were upon the point of marching off for want of bread: he prevailed upon them to stay a few days. During that period, he by express ordered flour immediately up from Boston, which however could not have been procured, had it not been from the captures just brought in by the cruisers. The American privateers, the state and continental vessels, have been very successful in capturing and getting safe into port a number of West India ships and others of great value, more than fuffici, ent to counterbalance by much the losses the United States have sustained in a similar way. It was computed, on the 15th of July, that within fix or seven weeks preceding, upward of 20,000. barrels of provifions, designed for the use of the enemy, had found their way into the Massachusetts ports. But for these and fuch like captures, the inhabitants would have been under the greatest difficulty through a prevailing scarcity. One while there was such a want of bread in Boston, that families who had lived well were without it many days. The price however of all articles, is rapidly rising in a continual succession, occasioned chiefly by the enormous quantity of paper currency, genuine and counterfeit, that is in circulation. This rise of commodis ties, and the associated depreciation of continental money, has spread such an alarm, that at Philadelphia and in the Massachusetts, the inhabitants are attempting afresh to remedy both, by a regulation of prices-which, like Sisyphus's stone, will never reach the summit of the ..

evil.

« ZurückWeiter »