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"symptoms which may authorise an opinion that the people "of America are pretty generally weary of the present "war."* So far as we can judge, it would seem, moreover, that dislike of the French nation, and distrust of the French alliance, were widely spread. But under all the circumstances of Great Britain this was not so prevalent in any one State as of itself to overpower the common acquiescence in the measures of the central body.
The Commissioners throve no better with their private correspondence than with their public overtures. Governor Johnstone having exchanged some letters with Joseph Reed and Robert Morris, his former friends, let fall some hints as to the honours and rewards which might attend' the promoters of a reconciliation. These hints, though incautiously made, were perhaps too jealously construed as attempts at corruption, as offers of a bribe. The letters were immediately laid before Congress, and by Congress were most angrily resented. Another incident which arose from these transactions was of the ludicrous kind; proceeding as it did from the boyish petulance of La Fayette. Some expressions in the public letter of the Commissioners to the President of Congress had reflected on the conduct of France; these moved his ire; and, in spite of Washington's advice, he challenged Lord Carlisle to meet him in single combat. To such a challenge, said Lord Carlisle, he found it difficult to return a serious answer.
Finding it impossible to proceed with their negotiation, the Commissioners prepared to re-embark for England. First, however, they issued a Manifesto, or Proclamation, to the American people, appealing to them against the decisions of the Congress, and offering to the Colonies at large, or singly, a general or separate peace. This Proclamation was in most parts both ably and temperately argued. But there was one passage liable to just exception.
* Letter to Mr. John Banister, April 21. 1778. On the 25th La Fayette writes to Washington, that he fears the three Commissioners more than ten thousand men.
The Commissioners observed, that hitherto the hopes of a re-union had checked the extremes of war. Henceforth the contest would be changed. If the British Colonies were to become an accession to France, the laws of self-preservation must direct Great Britain to render the accession of as little avail as possible to her enemy. Mr. Fox, and others of the Opposition in the House of Commons, inveighed with great plausibility against this passage, as threatening a war of savage desolation. Others, again, as friends to Lord Carlisle and Mr. Eden, asserted that no such meaning was implied. The error, whatever it might be, lay with the Commissioners, and in no degree with the Government at home. For Lord North denied, in the most express terms, that Ministers had intended to give the least encouragement to the introduction of any new kind of war in North America.*
Meanwhile the British army had relinquished Philadelphia and retired to New York. Sir Henry's first intention was to go by water, but he found that the transports were not sufficient for the whole, and that he must have left on shore great part of his cavalry, all the provision-trains, and all the loyalists who dreaded the vengeance of their countrymen. Under these circumstances he determined to lead the troops by land; and his retreat through the Jerseys, encumbered as it was with baggage and camp-followers, has been often admired as a masterpiece of strategy. On the 18th of June the last of the British marched out of Philadelphia, and the first of the Americans marched in. An eyewitness among the latter, Joseph Reed, thus speaks of what he saw: — "The enemy evacuated this place on Thursday. "I came in the same evening, and it exhibited a new and "curious scene; many gloomy countenances, but more joy"ful ones. Shops shut up, and all in great anxiety and sus"pense." By Washington's directions, General Arnold was immediately put in command of the city, with strict orders to restrain as far as possible every kind of persecution, insult,
* Debate in the House of Commons, Deo. 4. 1778.
or abuse. Nor was it long ere the Congress returned from the town of York to their former seat. Their presence in Philadelphia was of itself some security against acts of violence, although little or no regard had been shown to the wise and magnanimous advice of Washington for extending equal protection to men of opposite opinions. *
While marching through the Jerseys, the British troops were followed and harassed by Washington. Nearly all his officers, being consulted, gave advice against bringing them to an engagement; the Commander-in-chief nevertheless determined to attack their rear. He sent forward, accordingly, a strong detachment under General Charles Lee, now released from his captivity; and an action ensued at Monmouth Court House on the 28th of June. Lee withdrew from the ground without orders, and, as was alleged, without necessity; and he was closely pursued by the British; but Washington coming up effectually put a stop to their advance. So intense was the midsummer heat, that several men on both sides dropped dead without a wound. Both armies sustained a nearly equal loss, — between three and four hundred on each side, — and both in the evening occupied the same positions as at first; but in the course of the night Sir Henry Clinton silently withdrew his men, and pursued his march. Thus on the whole it was a pitched battle; the advantage, if any, being rather on the side of the British, who had fought only to secure their retreat, and who had succeeded in that object. The Americans ascribed their disappointment to the fault of General Lee; he was tried by a Court-Martial, found guilty, and by a lenient sentence suspended from command for one year. His chief consolation
* Previous to the retreat of the British, Washington had seriouslywarned the Congress, that "for want of this" (pardon and protection), "hundreds, nay, thousands of people, and among them many valuable "artisans, with large quantities of goods, will bo forced from Philadelphia,
"who otherwise would willingly remain A proscribing system, or
"laws having the same effect, when carried to a great extent, ever "appeared to me to be impolitic," Sec. Mr. Sparks has refrained from inserting the letter containing these remarkable words, but it may be found in the collection of 1795 (vol. ii. p. 283.), the date being June 2. 1778.
and employment in his disgrace appears to have been most virulent railing against Washington.
The British army being now concentrated at New York and Rhode Island, its principal attention was directed to the movements of the Toulon squadron. The equipment of that squadron had been actively pressed and nearly completed before the French Declaration of the 13th of March; it left port soon afterwards, and early in July appeared off the coast of America. There were six frigates and twelve ships of the line, the commander being Count D'Estaing; and there was on board Monsieur Gerard, accredited as Minister to the United States. The force under Lord Howe was very far inferior; fewer ships and those for the most part smaller thanD'Estaing's; besides that they had been long on service, and were in ill condition. The first object of D'Estaing had been to surprise them in the Delaware; but he arrived too late; the British had already sailed for New York. D'Estaing next directed his course to Sandy Hook, hoping to force the entrance of the harbour; but he was dissuaded by the advice of some pilots, and, altogether changing his plans, steered for Rhode Island, and sailed up the Newport river. An attack against the British in that quarter had been projected between the new allies; the French promised to land from their ships 4000 troops, and the Americans actually sent a detachment of 10,000 under General Sullivan. The British troops, only 5000 strong, retired within their lines at Newport.
At these tidings Lord Howe, whose intended successor, Admiral Byron, had not as yet arrived, issued forth from the Hudson, and sailed in pursuit of D'Estaing. The two fleets were on the point of engaging when separated by a violent storm; there were only conflicts between some single ships, in which the honour of the British Flag was worthily maintained. D'Estaing now declared, that his fleet was so far damaged by the tempest as to compel him to put into Boston harbour and refit. In this resolution he persisted, although Sullivan, Greene, and other American officers altogether
denied the necessity, and even transmitted to him a written protest against it, couched in acrimonious terms. Certain it is that the course which D'Estaing pursued on this occasion, not only forced the Americans to relinquish their enterprise upon Ehode Island, but roused up among them a bitter feeling against the French. To such an extent was this animosity carried, that riots ensued in the streets of Boston between the American seamen and their new allies.
During this time Sir Henry Clinton sent out several expeditions in various quarters. At Old Tappan a body of American horsemen, under Colonel Baylor, were surprised and routed, or put to the sword. In Egg Harbour great part of Count Pulasky's foreign legion was cut to pieces. At Buzzard's Bay, and on the island called Martha's Vineyard, many American ships were taken or destroyed, storehouses burned, and contributions of sheep and oxen levied. In these expeditions the principal commander was General Charles Grey, an officer of great zeal and ardour, whom the Americans sometimes surnamed "the No-flint General," from his common practice of ordering his men to take the flints out of their muskets, and trusting to their bayonets alone.* After some twenty years of further service, the veteran was raised, by the favour of his Sovereign, to the peerage, as Lord Grey of Ho wick, and afterwards Earl Grey. His son became Prime Minister, and the greatest orator who since the death of Chatham had appeared in the House of Lords.
In other parts of the Continent, the intermingling of savages in the war, even though with no authority from the chiefs, was productive of dreadful excesses. Thus at this time the fair settlement of Wyoming, on the Susquehanna, and under the dominion of Congress, was ferociously sacked and burned, its inhabitants being put to the sword, andlittle mercy shown either to women or children. The aggressors on this occasion were a troop of wild Indians, in conjunction with some Tory exiles. They were headed by * Kamsay's Hist. vol. ii. p. 94,