صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني




sovereignty and independence of the United States. The first guarantee not to have effect until a war should break out between France and England.

News of this treaty was received by Congress on the second of May, 1778, and it was ratified in that body by an unanimous vote.

On the fifteenth of November the articles of Confederation were adopted by Congress, and sent to the several States for their ratification. It was, however, not until the year 1781 that this instrument was ratified by all the thirteen States.

It consisted of thirteen articles, according to which the States enter into a perpetual league for their common defence, their liberties, and general welfare. To effect these objects, the free inhabitants in every State are entitled to the privileges and immunities of free citizens in all the States, and subject to no general restrictions in commerce. But fugitives from justice shall, on demand of the governor, be delivered up.

No State shall be represented in Congress by less than two, nor more than seven representatives; and no member shall hold his place more than three years out of six.

To Congress the powers are exclusively given of making war, of raising armies and navies, of appointing their officers, except in the army of the rank of colonel, of making treaties, sending and receiving ambassadors, of settling controversies between the States by a special tribunal; of coining money, regulating weights and measures, borrowing money, issuing bills of credit, regulating trade with Indians, and post-offices: but to exercise the most important of these powers, the concurrence of nine States is required. The money required for war, and to defray the expenses of the Confederation, VOL. I.-15




to be raised by the States in proportion to the value of their lands respectively.

After Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, nothing took place between the hostile armies during the winter and early spring, except endeavors to intercept each other's supplies of provisions, and small skirmishes with foraging parties.

In May, General Howe resigned his command of the army, which he transferred to Sir Henry Clinton, and proposed to return to England. A few days before his departure, the field-officers of his army expressed their sense of his amiable virtues by a costly festival, which, from the variety of its entertainments—including the novel spectacle of a tournament - they called the mischianza. Whatsoever taste or approaches to magnificence it might have displayed, it reflected no honor on its authors either as soldiers or Englishmen. While, by these frivolous amusements, they won the admiration and smiles of the ladies of Philadelphia- the vain and pretentious, as well as the polished and refined-they rather lowered than raised themselves in the esteem of the great body of American loyalists, and provoked the strictures of their own countrymen.

This expiring effort of British gallantry in Philadelphia long afforded copious topics for gratified vanity, for patriotic rebuke, and for ill-founded scandal.

The reputation of General Howe, beloved as he was by the whole army, was not elevated by his campaigns in America, and there was one occasion on which it was believed by many that greater vigor and decision on his part would have been destructive to the American army. Orders were soon afterwards given for the evacuation of Philadelphia.

Washington was, for some time, uncertain whether it



was the purpose of the British to go to the South, to embark the whole army for New York, or march to the same point through the Jerseys. The latter he thought the most probable. On a consultation with the officers, while they all agreed that there should be no attempt to cut off the rear of the enemy when they were on their march, they differed as to the further course to be pursued. Lee was of opinion that neither a general nor partial engagement should be risked, when the forces of the two armies were so nearly equal, and when the Americans were about to be strengthened by a foreign alliance. Other officers were of the same opinion. Of seventeen generals, only Wayne and Cadwalader were in favor of attacking the British.

The British army left Philadelphia on the eighteenth of May. Their march was so slow, as to favor the opinion that Clinton wished for an engagement, which, by the decision of the American council of war, was to be avoided. Washington accordingly kept possession of the high grounds, so that he might choose whether he would hazard an action or not, and afford protection to the passes in the highlands of New York, if it should be the object of the enemy to possess them.

On the twenty-fourth of June, Sir Henry Clinton was encamped at Allentown. Washington, who was strongly inclined to attack the enemy, notwithstanding the advice of his officers to the contrary, again consulted them. His army, according to the returns a few days before, amounted to ten thousand six hundred and eighty-four effective rank and file. The force of the enemy was supposed to be less than ten thousand. The opinion of all, except Wayne, was against an attack; though they then thought that a strong detachment should hover on the left flank of the enemy, and act according to circum




stances. Washington, however, finding himself supported by the private wishes of some officers in whom he had confidence, decided on effective measures. Lee and La Fayette, who commanded the front division, were to attack the rear of the enemy and bring on the action. Lee was ordered to begin the action as soon as the enemy began their march from the high ground they occupied. He prepared to execute the order next morning, but having reason to believe that the enemy were in greater force than had been supposed, he determined first to reconnoitre for himself.

Sir Henry Clinton, judging that an attempt was to be made to cut off his baggage, marched back his rear division to protect it. He then met Lee, who, finding he had underrated the enemy's force, deemed it prudent not to engage in his then position, as he had a morass on his rear, but to retreat to his former position, and the rather as General Scott had, under a mistake, drawn off his troops to the rear. In this retreat some skirmishing ensued, as the enemy pressed on Lee. Washington, not knowing of Lee's motives, met him retreating about noon, without having made any attack, or even an effort to maintain his ground; and in warm terms expressed disapprobation of his conduct, and ordered him to endeavor to stop the British columns. These orders were well executed by Lee, and though finally obliged to give way, he retreated in good order. This action took place near Monmouth Court-house.

During this check of the enemy, the rest of the American army came up and put a stop to the further advance of the British, who thereupon attacked first the left, and then the right of the American army, but were, in both cases, repulsed; and a body of infantry under Wayne coming up, they gave way, and retreated to the position

[ocr errors]




they had first occupied behind a ravine. Washington was preparing to attack them in the strong position they occupied, and had actually commenced it, when night compelled the Americans to postpone their operations till the next day. But about midnight the British silently retreated, and reached the high grounds about Middletown, where they could not be safely assailed.

Both parties claimed the victory. The advantage was with the English in the first part of the action; but with the Americans in the last, the latter remaining on the field, and sustaining the smallest loss. The British admitted their killed to be one hundred and eighty-eight, and the wounded one hundred and fifty-four-though near three hundred were buried on the ground. The Americans numbered two hundred and thirty in killed and wounded. The British army lost near a thousand from desertion-most of them foreigners.

Lee wrote to Washington an offensive letter, asking reparation for the injury done him. He was told, in reply, that he should soon have an opportunity of justifying himself, or of affording proof that he had not been guilty of disobedience of orders, and misbehavior before the enemy.

On Lee's expressing a wish for a speedy investigation, he was the same day arrested and charged with: first, disobedience of orders; secondly, for making an unnecessary, disorderly, and shameful retreat; thirdly, for disrespect to the Commander-in-chief, in two letters.

There was, at the time, a strong feeling in the army unfavorable to him, and his course was attributed to a wish to injure the reputation of Washington, and to advance his own. The court-martial found him guilty on all three of the charges, except that the word "shameful" was omitted in the second charge; and he was sen

« السابقةمتابعة »