Page images
PDF
EPUB

1. If Great Britain should, in consequence of this treaty, proceed to hostilities against France, the two nations should mutually assist one ahother.

2. The main end of the treaty was, in an effectual manner to maintain the independency of America.

3. Should those places in North America, still subject to Great Britain, be reduced by the colonies, they should be confederated with them, or subjected to their jurisdiction.

4. Should any of the West India islands, be reduced by France, theyshould be deemed its property.

5. No formal treaty with Great Britain should be concluded, either by France or America, without the consent of each other; and it Was mutually engaged, that they should not lay down their arms, till the independency of the States had been formally acknowledged.

6. The contracting parties mutually agree to invite those powers who had received injuries from Great Britain, to join the common cause.

7. The United States guaranteed to France all the possessions in the West Indies, which she should conquer; and France guaranteed the absolute independence of the United States, and their supreme authority over every country they possessed, or might acquire, during the war.

The house of commons looked upon this treaty as a declaration of war; and the members were unanimous in an address to his majesty, promising to stand by him to the utmost, in the present emergency; but it was warmly contended by the members of the opposition, that the present ministry should be removed, on account of their numerous blunders and miscarriages in every instance. Many were of opinion, that the only way to extricate the nation from its trouble, was to acknowledge at once, the independency of America, that so they might do with a good grace, what they would inevitably have to do at last. Instigated with zeal for the national honour, the ministerial party was determined to resent the arrogance of France, and prosecute the war in America, with increased vigour, should the terms about to be offered them be rejected.

The agents of the Americans, in the mean time, were assiduously employed at the courts cf Spain, Vienna3 Prussia, and Tuscany, in order, if possible, to conclude alliances with them; or, at least to procure an acknowledgment of their independency. As it had been reported, that Great Britain had applied for assistance to Russia, the American commissioners were enjoined to use their utmost endeavours with the German princes, to prevent such auxiliaries from marching through their territories; and also, to prevail with them to recal the German troops.already sent to America.

To the Spanish court they proposed, that in case they should think proper to espouse their cause, the American States should assist in reducing Pensacola under the dominion of Spain; provided the citizens of the United States were allowed the free navigation of the river Mississippi, and the use of the harbour of Pensacola: and they further offered, that if agreeable to Spain, they would declare war against Portugal, should that power expel the American ships from their ports.

The troops of General Burgoyne in the mean time, were preparing to embark, agreeably to the convention of Saratpga , but Congress having received information that articles of ammunition and accoutrements, had not been surrendered as stipulated; and alledging also, some other cause, as that they apprehended sinister designs were harboured by Great Britain, to convey these troops to join the army at Philadelphia, or New York, positively refused to let them embark without an explicit ratification of the convention, properly notified by the British court.

The season for action approaching, Congress was indefatigable in making preparations for a new campaign; which, it was confidently affirmed, would be the last. General Washington, at the same time, to remove all unnecessary incumbrances from the army, lightened the baggage as much as possible, by substituting sacks and portmanteaus, in place of chests and boxes; and using pack-horses instead of waggons. The British army on the other hand, expecting to be reinforced by twenty thousand men, thought of nothing but concluding the war according to their wishes, before the end of another campaign.

Lord North's conciliatory bill, therefore, was received by them, with the utmost concern and indignation; they considered it as a national disgrace; and some even tore the cockades from their hats, and trampled them under" their feet. By the colonists it was received with indifference. The British commissioners endeavoured to make it as public as possible; ami Congress, as usual, ordered it to be printed in all the newspapers. Governor Tryon inclosed several copies of the bill in a letter to General Washington, intreating him, that he would allow them to be circulated; to which the general returned for answer, a newspaper, in which the bill was printed, with the resolutions of Congress upon it, which were, that whosoever presumed to make a separate agreement with Great Britain, should be deemed a public enemy; that the United States could not, with any propriety, keep correspondence with the commissioners, until their independence was acknowledged, and the British fleets and armies removed from America.

The colonies were also warned not to suffer themselves to be deceived into security by any offers that might be made; but to use their utmost endeavours to send their quotas into the field. Some individuals, who conversed with the commissioners on the subject of the conciliatory bill, intimated to them that the day of reconciliation was past: that the haughtiness of Britain had extinguished all filial regard in the breasts of the Americans.

Silas Deane about this time arrived from France with two copies of the treaty of commerce and alliance, to be signed by Congress. Advices of the most flattering nature were received from various parts, representing the friendly dispositions of the European powers; all of whom it was said, wished to see the independence of America settled upon the most permanent basis.

Considering therefore, the situation of the colonies at this time, it was no wonder that the commissioners didnot succeed. Their proposals were utterly rejected, and themselves threatened to be treated as spies. But before any answer could be obtained from Congress, Sir Henry Ciinton had taken the resolution of evacuating Philadelphia. Accordingly on the eighteenth of June, after having made the necessary preparations, the army marched out of the city, and crossed theDelaware before noon, with all itsbsg-gage, and other incumbrances. General Washington, ap" prised of this design, had dispatched expresses into the .5erseys, with orders to collect all the force that could be assembled, in order to obstruct the march of the enemy. After various movements on both sides, Sir Henry Clinton, with the royal army, arrived at a place called Freehold, on the twenty-seventh of June, where expecting the enemy would attack him, he chose a strong situation. General Washington, as wasexpected, meditated an attack as soon as the anuy began to march. The night was spent in making the necessary preparations, and general Lee was ordered with his division to be ready at day break. Sir Henry Clinton, justly apprehending that the chief object of the enemy was the baggage, committed it to the care of general Knyphausen, whom he ordered to set out early in the morning, while he followed with the rest of the army. The attack was made, but the British general tiad taken such care to arrange his troops, and so effectually supported his forces when engaged with the Americans, that they not only made no impression, but were with difficulty preserved from a total defeat, by general Washington, who advanced with the whole of the American army.

The British troops retreated in the night, with the loss of three hundred men, of whom many died through fatigue (the weather being extremely hot.) not a wound being seen upon them. In this action, general Lee was charged by general Washington with disobedience and misconduct, in retreating before the British army. He was tried by a court martial, and sentenced to a suspension from his command for one year. When the British army had arrived at Sandy Hook, a bridge of boats was by lord Howe's directions, thrown from thence over the channel which separated the island from the main land, and the troops were conveyed on board the fleet; after which they sailed to New York. General Washington then moved towards the North Paver where a great force had been collected to join him, and where it was now expected that operations of great magnitude would take place.

France in the mean time, was preparing to assist the Americans. On the fourteenth of April, 1778, count D'Estaing had sailed from Toulon, with a strong squadron of ships of the line, and frigates; he arrived on the coast of Virginia, in the beginning of July, whilst the British ileet was employed in conveying the forces from Sandyhook to New-York. The French fleet consisted of one ship of 120 guns, one of eighty, six of 74, and four of 64, besides several large frigates; and exclusive of its complement of sailors, it had six thousand marines and soldiers on board. To oppose this, the British had only six ships of 64 guns, three of 50, and two of 40, with some frigates and sloops. Notwithstanding this inferiority, the British admiral had posted himself so advantageously, and displayed such superior skill, that D'Estaing did not think it adviseable to attack him: he was also informed by the pilots, that his large vessels could not go over the bar into the hook. In the mean time, general Washington pressed him to sail to Newport. He, therefore, remained at anchor four miles off Sandy hook, till the twenty-second of July, without effecting any thing more than the capture of some vessels; which, through ignorance of his arrival, fell into his hands.

The next attempt of the French admiral, in conjunction with the Americans, was against Rhode Island. It was proposed that D'Estaing, with the six thousand troops he had with him, should make a descent on the southern part of the island, while the Americans took possession of the North; at the same time, the French squadron was to enter the harbour of Newport, and take, and destroy all the British shipping there. On the eighth of August, the French admiral entered the harbour, as was proposed,but was unable to do any material damage. Lord Howe, however, instantly set sail for Rhode Island, and D'Estaing confiding in his superiority, immediately came out of the harbour to attack him. A violent storm parted the two fleets, and did so much damage, that they were rendered totally unfit for action. The French suffered the most, and several of their ships being afterwards attacked by the English, very narrowly escaped being taken. On the twentieth of August, the French admiral returned to Newport in a shattered condition; but not thinking himself safe there, sailed two days after for Boston.

In the mean time, general Sullivan had landed on the northern part of the island, with ten thousand men. On the seventeenth of August, they began their operations, by erecting batteries, and making their approaches to the British lines. General Pigot, however, had so secured

« PreviousContinue »