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1776.

NEW CONSTITUTIONS.

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the 15th of May. In nearly all the endeavour was apparent to retain as far as possible the ancient forms. But since Royalty was set aside, it became unavoidable to derive the whole powers of government, either mediately or immediately, from the people. Thus in each State there was still to be appointed a supreme executive head, with the title either of Governor or President. Such appointments, however, instead of forming a check on the popular impulse, would henceforth be only in one shape or another a manifestation of it. The new Governors were chosen, as of course, among the favourites of the ruling majority. In Virginia, for example, the new Governor was Patrick Henry. Eleven of the States maintained a Second Chamber, to be called in some cases the Council, in some others the Senate. Georgia and Pennsylvania alone resolved on trying the experiment of a single Chamber. In the Pennsylvania Convention that point is said to have been decided by a speech, or rather by a story, from Dr. Franklin. With his usual fondness for apologue, he told them a tale of a loaded waggon with a team at each end pulling in opposite directions. The other Pennsylvanians present appear to have considered this argument, if so it can be called, decisive of the question. Yet so ill did the working of a single Chamber speed in their province or in Georgia, that not many years elapsed ere in both it was abandoned; and since the further experience of France in her first Revolutionary period, the theory of Franklin on this subject has been, it is said, altogether exploded among his countrymen.* Certain it is that periods may be shown in the more recent history of the United States, when nothing but the existence of a Second Chamber in their Congress has saved them from great dangers and from glaring faults.

From the formation of councils, we must now revert to the conduct of the war. During several weeks General Washington remained on the heights of Haerlem, while General Howe continued at gaze. At last, towards the

* Sparks'sLife of Franklin, p. 410. Mahon, History. VI. 9 middle of October, the English commander put the greater part of his forces on board, and landed them at the extremity of Frog's Neck, on the continent of New York, and in Long Island Sound. There again he lost several days, kept in check apparently by the American outposts, and unable to reach the mainland over a ruined causeway. Once more he transported his troops, by water, to the adjoining promontory of Pell's Neck, and from thence began his march into the country. His movements had drawn the American army from the heights of Haerlem: it had, for the most part, passed the stream at Kingsbridge, and was now near the White Plains, already intrenched in its newposition. Several skirmishes ensued, in which the British gained apparent success, but the Americans gradual experience. The chief skirmish—sometimes, indeed, it was termed a battle — took place on the 28th, near Chatterfon's Hill, when the enemy gave way, retiring, however, from the ground in good order, and carrying off their artillery and wounded. It appears from General Howe's despatches, that next morning he contemplated an assault on the American camp, but was deterred by the apparent strength of its lines. Little did he know of what these lines, in truth, consisted! They were designed principally for defence against small arms, and had been reared in the utmost haste from the stalks of a large corn-field near the spot, the tops being turned inwards, and the stalks supported by the lumps of earth adhering to the roots.* Such were now the obstacles before which a British chief recoiled! Deeming a new attack inexpedient , General Howe, on the morning of the 5th of November, suddenly drew off his troops to the left, in the direction of Kingsbridge, leaving the American chief in great doubt as to their further objects. "Some," writes Washington, "suppose they are going into winter quarters, "and will sit down in New York without doing more than "invest Fort Washington. I cannot subscribe wholly to this "opinion myself. Surely General Howe must attempt some

* Memoirs of General Heath, p. 81. a/JiidReed.

•1776. RETREAT OF THE AMERICANS. 131

"thing on account of his reputation, for what has he done "as yet with his great army?"

It seemed not improbable that the King's troops might attempt an invasion of the Jerseys, and a push for Philadelphia. To defend thesedistricts, General Washington crossed the Hudson with his army, and took post at Hackinsac. Meanwhile, on the 16th, Fort Washington was assaulted and carried by the British. The defence was continued during only four or five hours, the garrison being driven from the outer works, and then surrendering. No less than 2800 of the American troops became prisoners of war on this occasion. To have left any garrison in that fort, after the evacuation of New York Island, was certainly a great fault of strategy; and Washington, long afterwards, with noble frankness, spoke of it as such. But, in fact, the post had been held contrary to his own wishes and opinions, and his error lay only in having yielded these to the inferior judgment of other officers , especially of General Greene.

Sir William Howe (for the knighthood of the Bath had been recently conferred upon him; and Carleton, in like manner, had become Sir Guy) followed up his last advantage. Six thousand men, led by Earl Cornwallis, were landed on the Jersey side. At their approach, the Americans withdrew in great haste from Fort Lee, leaving behind their artillery and stores. Washington himself had no other alternative than to give way with all speed as his enemy advanced. He fell back successively upon Brunswick, upon Princeton, upon Trenton, and at last to the Pennsylvania side of the Delaware. To all these places, one after the other, did Lord Cornwallis, though slowly and with little vigour, pursue him.

This fair province of the Jerseys, sometimes surnamed the Garden of America*, did not certainly, on this occasion, prove to be its bulwark. The scene is described as follows by one of their own historians, Dr.Bamsay: — "As the re"treating Americans marched through the country, scarcely

* "Lfes Jerseys . . .. on les appelle le jardin de TAmerique." (Voyages du Marquis de Chastellux, vol. I. p. 146.)

"one of the inhabitants joined them, while numbers were "daily flocking to the Royal army to make their peace and "obtain protection. They saw on the one side a numerous "well-appointed and full-clad army, dazzling their eyes with "the elegance of uniformity; on the other a few poor fellows "who, from their shabby clothing, were called ragamuffins, "fleeing for their safety. Not only the common people "changed sides in this gloomy state of public affairs, but *' some of the leading men in New Jersey and Pennsylvania "adopted the same expedient."* It is to be observed that the two Howes had issued a joint proclamation, offering a pardon to all such as had opposed the King's authority who should within sixty days subscribe a declaration that they would remain in peaceable obedience to his Majesty. Such an offer might add to the effect of the British arms. Yet it seems scarcely just to the Americans to ascribe, with Dr. Ramsay, their change of sides to nothing beyond their change of fortune. May we not rather believe that a feeling of concern at the separation, hitherto suppressed in terror, was now first freely avowed — that in New Jersey, and not in New Jersey alone, an active and bold minority had been able to overrule numbers much larger, but far more quiescent and complying?

Another remark, by the same historian, might, as history shows, be extended to other times and other countries besides his own. The men who had been the vainest braggarts, the loudest blusterers in behalf of Independence, were now the first to veer round or to slink away. This remark, which Dr. Ramsay makes only a few years afterwards, is fully confirmed by other documents of earlier date, but much later publication — by the secret correspondence of the time. Thus writes the Adjutant-General: — "Some ofourPhila"delphia gentlemen who came over on visits, upon the first "cannon went off in a. most violent hurry. Your noisy Sons "of Liberty are, I find, the quietest in the field."** Thus,

* History of the American Revolution, vol. i. p. 313.
** Life and Correspondence of Reed, vol. i. p. 231.

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1776.

LEE TAKEN PRISONER.

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again, Washington, with felicitous expression, points a paragraph at the "chimney-corner heroes."*

At this period the effective force under Washington had dwindled to four thousand men. A separate division, of hearly equal strength, which he had entrusted to General Lee, was now, in like manner, slowly pursuing its march from the Hudson to the Delaware. Letter after letter — express after express — was sent by Washington to Lee, directing that officer to join him with all speed; but Lee, ever selfwilled and perverse, paid no attention to these orders. He was busied in writing letters to find fault with the Commander-in-chief, when one evening, with the ink scarcely dry upon his paper, he was surprised and made prisoner by a party of dragoons under Colonel Harcourt — the same who in later life succeeded to the Harcourt Earldom, and the military rank of Field Marshal. Thus does Washington, in confidence, relate the transaction to his brother: — "The "captivity of General Lee is an additional misfortune, and the "more vexatious as it was by his own folly and imprudence, "and without a view to effect any good, that he was taken. "As he went to lodge three miles out of his own camp, and "within twenty of the enemy, a rascally Tory rode in the "night to give notice of it to the enemy, who sent a party of "Light Horse, that seized him and carried him off with every "mark of triumph and indignity."**

The Congress at this juncture, like most other public assemblies , seemed but slightly affected by the dangers which as yet were not close upon them. On the 11th of December they passed some Resolutions contradicting, as false and malicious, a report that they intended to remove from Philadelphia. They declared that they had a higher opinion of the good people of these States than to suppose such a measure requisite, and that they would not leave the city of Philadelphia "unless the lastnecessity shall direct it." These Resolutions were transmitted by the President to Washing

* Writings, vol. iii. p. 286.
** Letter, December 18. 1776.

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