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1777.

GENERAL REFLECTIONS.

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the want of supplies in a desolate district, and the want of intelligence amidst an unfriendly population. In the case of Stanhope, considerations such as these were almost from the first allowed full force. But such mighty consequences, actual and contingent, were found to follow the event at Saratoga, that the behaviour of Burgoyne has been much longer and far more severely arraigned.

It may indeed be said, that even of those great conflicts, in which hundreds of thousands have been engaged and tens of thousands have fallen, none has been more fruitful of results than this surrender of thirty-five hundred fighting men atSaratoga. It not merely changed the relations of England, and the feelings of Europe, towards these insurgent Colonies, but it has modified for all times to come the connexion between every Colony, and every parent State. To the latter it has shown the need of moderation; to the former, far beyond any other example, the power, and the possibility, of victorious resistance.

At the outset it had seemed not unreasonable to lay great stress on the far superior resources of Great Britain. I have observed, for instance, one hand-bill signed by "a Yeoman of Suffolk County," and sold at Boston, in February, 1775. In that hand-bill, the impending contest with the mother country is declared as vain and hopeless as that of the Giants waging war against Olympus.* The contest then did commence, and not without some degree at least of the success predicted. With little skill in our first commanders, with the greatest possible defects in our system of supply and equipment, with a singular remissness in pursuing and securing advantages, we yet to some extent prevailed. In July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence removing all doubt as to the final object, gave us, in many provinces, the support of a large and loyal party. In the December following we saw the force of Washington shrunk to a scanty handful, — the Congress in full flight from Philadelphia, — the British army sovereign on the banks of the Hudson, and victorious on the * American Archives, vol. i. p. 1216.

banks of the Delaware. Had that one opportunity — that single lock on the head of Fortune — been more sagaciously or more resolutely grasped, at least a temporary subjugation might have probably ensued. But when the first weeks of surprise and panic were allowed to glide away, there remained in operation the two great obstacles which the wisest heads on both sides of the Atlantic had all along foreseen. In the first place there was not, and from the principles at strife in afree country there could not be, what Lord North, so early as 1770, lamented that he sought in Vain; "if but," he cried, "there had been an union of Englishmen in the cause of "England!"* There never would cease to be in Parliament a considerable party forward in denouncing and obstructing the measures of injustice by which, as they conceived, their American fellow-subjects were oppressed. Secondly, the inherent difficulty of an American campaign was such, as no degree of skill in the General, or of spirit in the troops, could always overcome. After crossing three thousand miles of sea, they would still find in many districts their course arrested by deep swamps and tangled forests, — rivers to pass of a breadth and force altogether unknown in England, — extremes both of heat and cold to which they had hitherto been strangers, — and to profit by such difficulties, the first weeks of panic once past, a race of men sprung from their own loins, and inheriting their own determination. Surely then, as in after years the case of Lord Cornwallis still more clearly proved, to complete the desired reduction of these States, there must have been, first or last, other expeditions undertaken like to that of Saratoga, other expeditions exposed to the same obstacles, and tending to the same results.

In all the actions which preceded the surrender of Saratoga, the American troops, though in part consisting of raw levies, showed themselves in a high degree intrepid, firm, and ready. To Gates, as to their General in - chief, the same amount of praise can scarcely be awarded. So far as the re

* Cavendish Debates, vol. i. p. 486.

1777. HOSTILE PEELING OF GATES TO WASHINGTON. 201

suit depended at all on military prowess, its merit, as I conceive, belongs mainly to the subordinate commanders; a large share to Stark, and a larger still to Arnold.

Nor is this anomaly, if anomaly it can be termed, the only one connected with the Generals that may be remarked in this campaign. Of all the events in the American War, the greatest and most important, in its results, at least, was Saratoga. Of all the men in the American War, the greatest and most important, beyond all doubt or parallel, was Washington. Yet these two appear whollyunconnected. Washington had nothing whatever to do with Saratoga. This I do not here note down in disparagement, or as lessening, even in the smallest degree, the hero's most just renown, but as evincing one of those apparent contradictions — one of those deficiencies in stage effect — on which, more than on any other point, real life will be found to differ from fiction — an epic from a history.

So far, indeed, was Washington from taking any part in the events of this campaign, that they were at the time almost studiously concealed from him. As Commander-in-chief of all the American armies, he had, beyond all question, a right to expect constant reports from Gates. But Gates belonged to the faction of his ill-wishers and detractors, or, perhaps, might be regarded as the chief of them. Every one of his communications was addressed to Congress, not one to Washington. Full seventeen days after the signature of the Convention he wrote to Washington upon another subject, adding, as though it were a matter of small moment, "Congress "having been requested immediately to transmit copies of "all my despatches to them, I am confident your Excellency "has long ago received all the good news from this quarter." Now, if even these despatches had been transmitted by Congress, which they were not, there would still have been great delay attending such transmission, from the relative positions of the Congress at York and of Washington in camp.

In another manner, also, was the unfriendly spirit of Gates displayed. Early in the campaign, though ill able to spare troops, Washington had consented to reinforcehim by a corps under Colonel Morgan. After the battle of theBrandywine, and with the loss of Philadelphia in view, Washington addressed a letter to Gales, declaring his own urgent need of Morgan and his men. "I sent him up," writes Washington, "when I thought you materially wanted him; if his services "canbe dispensed with now, you will direct his immediate "return. You will perceive I do not mention this by way of "command, but leave you to determine upon it according "to your situation."* This letter was received by Gates while the Britishwere still encamped before himon Behmus's Heights. Quite properly, and according to the latitude allowed him, he retained the men in question until the surrender of Burgoyne. But after that surrender he seemed in no haste to part with them; he despatched them at last unwillingly and taTdily, thus having kept them when they could no longer be of service to him, and when he knew that their assistance was anxiously required elsewhere. <

Under these circumstances Washington evinced his usual magnanimity. He felt, he could not but feel, the slights put upon him at this period both by his superiors and by his subordinate — by the Congress and by General Gates. But he allowed no word of unworthy complaint to fall from him. To a personal friend he observed, "It is to be hoped that all "will yet end well. If the cause is advanced, indifferent is "it to me where or in what quarter it happens."** To Gates himself we find him write in language of manly and frank congratulation on the great event of Saratoga. He adds only these words: "At the same time I cannot but regret that "a matter of such magnitude, and so interesting to our ge"neral operations, should have reached me by report only, "or through the channel of letters not bearing that authenticity which the importance of it required, and which it

* Writings, vol. v. p. 74. See also the note at p. 125. of that Volume.

Letter to Patrick Henry, November'13. 177",

1777. ILL-TREATMENT OF THE CONVENTION TROOPS. 203

"would have received by a line under your signature stating "the simple fact."*

The generous treatment of the British troops surrendering at Saratoga did not long endure; it ceased on their reaching New England. On this point Madame de Riedesel appears an unexceptionable witness, She speaks in the warmest terms of the care and kindness which, on the day of the capitulation, she and her young children received from General Schuyler. At that time she did not know him t-- but could not forbear exclaiming, "You are so very good to us, "that I am sure, sir, you must be yourself a husband and a "father!" Similar hospitality continued to be shown her through all the State of New York. In that country, as she observes in another passage of her narrative, it would be deemed almost a crime to shut the door upon any stranger. Buton entering Massachusetts the scene was wholly changed. There rancour againstthe Royalists seemed to have absorbed every other feeling. It is stated by Madame de Riedesel, that whenever she passed in the streets of Boston the female part of the population cast upon her angry looks, and,, in sign of their disdain, spat on the ground before her. ,. A £af worse token of their rancour is recorded by the same authority.,, There was a Captain Fenton, of their town, who had gone to England, but had left behind his wife and daughter, the last a beautiful girl of fifteen. At the news that Captain Fenton continued faithful to the King, some women of the lower orders seized on these unhappy ladies, tore off their clothes, and tarred and feathered them, in which condition they were dragged as a show around the town! **

With this state of popular feeling in the capital of Massachusetts , the British troops under the Convention found themselves exposed to various forms of insult or ill-usage. One American commander, Colonel Henley, was, atthein

* Letter to General Gates, October 30. 1777.

** Dienst-Reise, pp. 192—202. ed. 1801. See also p. 238. Translated into English, this little volume has been published in America, and is highly praised by Mr. Jared Sparks. (Note to Washington's Writings, vol. vi. p. 94.) , i"

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