« PreviousContinue »
cesses produced no lasting benefit. The few who es caped had it in their power to make thousands miserable. For the permanent security of the frontier inhabitants, it was resolved to carry a decisive expedition into the Indian country. A considerable body of continental troops was selected for the purpose, and put under the command of general Sullivan. The Indians who form the confederacy of the six nations called the Mohawks, were the objects of this expedition. They inhabit that immense and fertile tract of country which lies between New England, the Middle States, and the province of Canada. Sullivan marched into their country, and burnt and destroyed all the provisions and settlements that fell in their way.
On the opening of the next campaign, A. D. the British troops left Rhode Island. An 1780. expedition, under general Clinton and lord Cornwallis, was undertaken against Charleston, in South Carolina which, after a close siege of six weeks, was surrendered to the British commander; and general Lincoln and the whole garrison were made prisoners. This was the first instance in which the Americans had attempted to defend a town.— The unsuccessful event, with its consequences, demonstrated the policy of sacrificing the towns of the Union, in preference to endangering the whole, by risking too much for their defence.
General Gates was now appointed to the command of the southern department, and another army collected. In August, lord Cornwallis attacked the American troops at Camden,. in South Carolina, and routed them with considerable loss. He afterwards marched through the southern states, and supposed that he had entirely subdued them. The same summer the British troops made fre
quent incursions from New York into the Jerseys, ravaging and plundering the country. A large body, commanded by general Kniphausen, landed in June, at Elizabeth Point, and proceeded into the country. These were much harrassed in their progress by colonel Dayton, and the troops under his command. At Connecticut Farms they burnt a considerable part of the village. In this neighbourhood lived Mr. Caldwell, an eminent presbyterian clergyman, whose exertions in defence of his country had rendered him particularly obnoxious to the British. Mrs. Caldwell, seeing the enemy advancing, retired with her housekeeper, a child of three years old, an infant of eight months, and a little maid, to a room secured on all sides by stone walls, except at a window opposite the enemy. Unsuspicious of danger, while she was sitting on her bed, holding one child by the hand, with the infant at her breast, a British soldier shot her dead, who had evidently come to the unguarded part of the house, with a design to perpetrate the horrid deed. Her husband shortly after shared the same fate.
The campaign of this year passed away in successive disappointments and distresses. The country seemed exhausted, and the continental currency expiring the army, in want of every article of food and clothing, brooding over its calamities. While these disasters were openly menacing the American cause, treachery was silently undermining it. General Arnold engaged, for a stipulated sum, to betray into the hands of the British an important post. He had been among the first to take arms against Great Britain, and to widen the breach between the parent state and the colonies. His distinguished talents and exemplary courage had procured him every honour that a grateful
Country could bestow; and he was in the enjoyment of such a share of fame, for the purchase of which the wealth of worlds would have been insufficient. His love of pleasure produced a love of money, and that extinguished all sensibility to the obligations of honour and duty.
The agent employed in this negociation on the part of sir Henry Clinton, was major André, a young officer of great hopes and uncommon merit. His great honour and abhorrence of duplicity, made him inexpert in the practise of those arts of deception which such a business required. He was taken, and the fatal papers found concealed in his boots. André offered his captors a purse of gold and a valuable watch, if they would let him pass; and permanent provision and future promotion, if they would accompany him to New York. They nobly disdained the proferred bribe, and delivered him over to their colonel. André called himself by the name of Anderson, and under that character obtained leave to send a letter to Arnold, who immediately effected his escape.
General Washington referred the whole case of major André to the examination and decision of a board consisting of fourteen general officers. Their report, founded entirely on his own confession, declared that he ought to be considered as a spy, and that, agreeably to the laws and usages of nations, he ought to suffer death.
Great interest was made to save his valuable life, which was refused but upon the condition of their giving up Arnold; this could not be acceded to, without offending against every principle of policy. André, though superior to the terrors of death, wished to die like a soldier. The usages of war would not now allow of this request, but his feel
ings were saved from the pain of a negative. The guard which attended him in his confinement marched with him to the place of execution. The way over which he passed was crowded with anxious spectators, whose sensibility was strongly impressed by beholding an amiable youth devoted to immediate execution. Major André walked with firmness, composure and dignity, between the officers of his guard, his arm being locked in theirs. Upon seeing the preparations, he asked with some degree of concern, "Must I die in this manner." He was told it was unavoidable. He replied, "I am reconciled to my fate, but not to the mode; it will however be but a momentary pang." His conduct excited the admiration and melted the hearts of all the spectators. He was asked if he had any thing to say; "Nothing," says he, "but to request that you will witness to the world that I die like a brave man."
This execution was the subject of severe cen-, sures; and notwithstanding the usages of war, which were appealed to for the justice of the sentence, it would have been honourable to the congress, and their general in chief, had the life of this excellent young man been spared. While every heart pitied the fate of major André, the conduct of the infamous Arnold was stamped with universal infamy; and, like persons of his description, he lived despised by mankind, and died a few years since unlamented. General Washington arrived in camp just after Arnold had made his escape, and restored order in the garrison.
After the defeat of general Gates in Carolina, general Greene was appointed to the command of
* See Monthly Magazine, vol. xi. p. 546.
the southern army. From this period things in that quarter wore a more favourable aspect. Colonel Tarleton, the active commander of the British legion, was defeated by general Moreton, the intrepid commander of the riflemen.
After a variety of movements the two armies met at Guildford, in Carolina, where was one of the best-fought actions during the war. General Greene and Lord Cornwallis exerted themselves at the head of their respective armies; and although the Americans were obliged to retire from the field of battle, yet the British army suffered immense loss, and could not pursue the victory. In this action generals O'Hara and Howard, and colonel Tarleton-were wounded : besides these, colonel Stuart and three captains were killed, and colonel Webster died of his wounds.
At this period Arnold, who had been made a brigadier-general in the British service, with a small number troops sailed for Virginia, and plundered the country.
After the battle of Guildford, general Greene moved towards South Carolina, to drive the British from their posts in that state. Here lord Rawdon obtained an inconsiderable advantage over the Americans near Camden. Greene, with his usual promptitude, instantly took measures to prevent his lordship from improving the success he had obtained. He retreated with such order that most of his wounded, and all his artillery, together with a number of prisoners, were carried off. The British retired to Camden, where it was known that they could not long subsist without fresh provisions, and the American general took proper measures to prevent their getting any.