Page images

the attack; but their sufferings in the storm were so severe, that the troops were in a deplorable state.

On the 14th the army lay exposed to an attack from General Pigot, which must have proved ruinous, had he known their situation.

[ocr errors]

On the 15th the American army had recovered their misfortunes, and were again prepared to act in concert with the fleet, and anxiously awaited their movements, whren to their grief and astonishment, they saw them weigh, and stand off for Boston, on the 24th. The mortification of General Sullivan was greater than the pride of an American soldier could sustain, and he expressed himself unguardedly in his general orders upon the occasion.

On the 26th, Count De Estaing wrote to Congress from Boston, and explained his movements, to the satisfaction of that honourable body.

General Sullivan saw himself abandoned by most of the volunteers, who had joined him, and his army reduced. to a standard below that of the enemy; saw also the necessity of abandoning the enterprise, and securing his retreat, as fast as possible.

On the 25th, Gen. Sullivan sent off his heavy cannon, and on the 27 and 28th, he had prepared the way for withdraw ing his troops to the north end of the island, which he ef fected on the 29th; at this time Gen. Pigot, having discovered that Gen. Sullivan had withdrawn his army, mov ed with his whole force to intercept his retreat..

The advance guard of the British was soon engaged with the rear of the Americans, which brought on a severe action, that continued through the day, with a severe loss upon both sides; but nothing decisive. The next day Gen. Sullivan learnt that Lord Howe was again at sea, and that the French fleet were not expected to return to Newport; he concluded to evacuate the island as soon as possible.

Great address became necessary to effect such a movement in the presence of an enemy, flushed with the deliverance they had so recently experienced, and the flattering prospects before them. But Gen. Lincoln, by the assistauce and advice of Gen. Greene, effected this, in presence of such an enemy, whose sentries were not more than 400 yards distant from the American sentries, and on the morning of the 1st of September, the retreat was completed without the loss of a man, or any part of his artillery, or baggage.

The same day Sir Henry Clinton arrived off Newport, on board the fleet under Lord Howe, with 4000 troops, to cut off the retreat of Gen. Sullivan, and destroy the American army; but learning the departure of the French to Boston, and the retreat of the American army, he sailed for Boston, and appeared off the mouth of the harbour on the 3d of September, where he discovered the position of the French fleet, strongly posted, and by him considered as impregnable. Sir Henry returned the next day to New-York, and left the fleet, to destroy the American privateers and shipping in the harbour of Bedford, which they accomplished on the 5th, to the number of 70 sail, besides small craft, ware-houses, stores, dwelling houses, and vessels on the stocks, together with the magazine, to the amount of 21,000l. sterling.

The fleet next made an attack upon Martha's Vineyard, destroyed all the vessels, and carried off the arms of the militia; the public money; three hundred oxen, and ten thousand sheep, which served as a supply of fresh to the army and navy, at New-York.

The following extract from a letter of Gen. Washington, shall close this chapter.

"It is not a little pleasing, nor less wonderful to contemplate, that after two years manoeuvering, 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 the offending party in the beginning, is now reduced to the spade, and pick-ax 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."



PENDING these operations, George Johnston, Esq. one of the British commissioners, attempted to bribe a Mr. Reed, and others, members of Congress, to effect'a negociation and reconciliation between Britain and America, to which Mr. Reed replied." I am not worth buying, but such as I AM, the King of England is not rich enough to do it." Mr Reed disclosed the facts to Congress, and they, by their resolve, ordered all letters addressed to the members of Congress, from British commissioners, or agents, or any subjects of the king of Great Britain, of a public nature, to be laid before Congress. They next proceeded by resolve to interdict all further intercourse, or negociation with the said George Johnston, Esq. as incompatible with the honour of Congress. This resolve brought out of New-York a warm and spirited reply from the proscribed Johnston, with a total disavowal of the facts on the part of Sir Henry Clinton, Lord Carlisle, and Mr. Eden; they at the same time tendered to Congress their ratification of the convention of Saratoga, that the troops of Gen. Burgoyne might be embarked for England; but Congress declined all ratification short of that of the British government, and the troops were withheld.

The commissioners next directed their appeal to the American people, and issued their publications accordingly; Congress favoured this procedure, and their appeal had full scope; the country had good sense enough rightly to appreciate this procedure, and virtue enough to frown upon it with contempt, and it ended in disgrace, and mortification to the commissioners.

Stung with chagrin and indignation at the failure of all their bare and insidious measures, the commissioners next proceeded to denounce the American government in a valedictory manifesto, and proclamation, and threatened the American people with vengeance and destruction, if they persevered in their rebellion, and adhered to their alliance with France.

Congress met this procedure with a manifesto, in which they denounced that savage mode of warfare which the British had carried on in America, and particularly their barbarity towards the American prisoners, as well as the meanness of the commissioners in attempting to seduce the members of Congress, and others, by bribery and corruption; they thus concluded-" If our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a like conduct. We appeal to that God who is the searcher of hearts, for the rectitude of our inten tions, and in his holy presence declare, that as we are not moved by any light and hasty suggestions of anger, or revenge, so through every possible change of fortune, we; will adhere to this our determination."

The Marquis La Fayette felt the indignity offered to his nation, by some expressions in the manifesto of the com missioners, and challenged the Earl of Carlisle to an swer for these reflections at single combat, but his challenge was not accepted.

On the 6th of August the Honourable Sieur Gerard delivered his credentials in due form, and had his first audience of Congress.

Congress next proceeded to appoint Dr. Franklin minister plenipotentiary to the Court of Versailles, with instruc-3 tions to negociate for an expedition against Canada, in which France and America were to co-operate, in conformity with the views of the Marquis La Fayette.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »