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Colonel Butler, a partisan commander of note, and by Joseph Brandt, a half Indian in birth, a whole Indian in cruelty. Unhappily at Wyoming the soil was claimed both by Connecticut and Pennsylvania. From this conflict of pretensions, and consequent laxity of law, there had been the freer license for rigours against the loyalists. Few of them in that district but had undergone imprisonment, or exile, or confiscation of property; and thus were they at last provoked to form a savage alliance, and to perpetrate a fierce revenge.
Another such scene of ruthless havoc, under the same leaders, took place at Cherry Valley, when an officer from Massachusetts, Ichabod Alden, was surprised and slain. The Americans vowed vengeance, and they kept their word. An expedition from Pennsylvania, under a different Colonel Butler, and another expedition from Virginia, under Colonel Clarke, having accomplished most toilsome marches, fell upon several back-settlements connected with the British or Canadians, compelling the allegiance of some, and with sword and fire laying the others waste.
Such successes as that at Old Tappan were regarded as mere subordinate objects by Sir Henry Clinton. His main purpose at this time was to carry the war into the Southern States. Hitherto the attempt had been to conquer the Colonies from north to south. Might not better success attend the opposite endeavour of proceeding from south to north, beginning where the loyal-partywas the strongest, and where the power of defence was least? With these views, in which the Cabinet at home participated, Sir Henry despatched a body of 3500 men by sea to Georgia. Its capital, Savannah, was defended by the American General, Robert Howe, but it was quickly carried, and the entire province reduced. Great part of the colonists consented to take the oath of allegiance to the King, and to form rifle-companies in the Koyal cause.
Sir Henry had also received secret instructions from his Government to make a, further detachment of 5000 men to 1778. Count D'estaing In The West-indies. 265
the West Indies, the object being an attack on St. Lucia. These troops he sent according to his orders. Certainly, however, he had good reason for observing at the same time to the Secretary of State: — "With an army so much dimi"nished at New York, nothing important can be done, "especially as it is also weakened by sending 700 men to "Halifax, and 300 to Bermuda." * Indeed, for many months afterwards.the army at New York could fulfil little more than the duties of a garrison.
Early in November Count D'Estaing, with the French squadron, quitted the port of Boston, and sailed for the West Indies, there to pursue exclusively French objects. Deep was the disappointment, and loud the animadversion, of the Americans in the northern provinces. They had formed the most sanguine hopes from the French alliance. They had found that alliance as yet little better than a name. Moreover, just before the departure of D'Estaing, he had given them another valid reason for displeasure. He had issued a proclamation to the people of Canada!, inviting, though in guarded terms, their return to the sway of their former Sovereign. It need scarcely be observed that such views were most directly repugnant to the terms of the treaty signed only nine months before. Nor did it seem easy to believe, as is still asserted, that D'Estaing was acting in utter ignorance of the real intentions of his Court.** Under such circumstances, the conduct of the majority of Congress was such as to justify, in a most striking manner, the complaints of their incapacity which we find in Washington's private letters at this period. They eagerly embraced a project from La Fayette for another invasion of Canada, to be concerted between themselves and the Court of Versailles; and they shut their eyes to the obvious probability, that
* To Lord George Germaine, October 8. 1778.
** See a note to Mr. Sparks's edition of Washington's Writings, Vol. vi. p. 113.; and the life of Gouverneur Morris, vol. i. p. 189. The Proclamation itself appears in the Ann. Reglst. 1779, p. 855. D'Estaing says to the Canadians: "To bear the arms of parricides against it" (your mother country) "must be the completion of misfortunes." But was not this rather dangerous ground for him to touch upon with his new allies;
the King of France would insist on retaining Canada, if conquered by his aid.
From this risk, as from so many others, both before and since, was the Congress rescued by the foresight and the firmness of Washington. He induced them, though not without great difficulty, to postpone, at least, this favourite scheme. Thus he expostulated with the President: — "France, — acknowledged for some time past the most "powerful monarchy in Europe by land, — able now to dis"pute the empire of the sea with Great Britain, and if joined "with Spain, I may say, certainly superior, — if possessed "of New Orleans, on our right, and of Canada, on our left, "and if seconded by the numerous tribes of Indians in our "rear, from one extremity to the other, — a people so friend"ly to her, and whom she knows so well how to conciliate, — "would, it is much to be apprehended, have it in her power
"to give law to these States I fancy that I read in the
"countenances of some people on this occasion more than
"the disinterested zeal of allies But upon the whole,
"Sir, to waive every other consideration, I do•not like to "add to the number of our national obligations. I would "wish as much as possible to avoid giving a foreign Power "new claims of merit for services performed to the United "States, and would ask no assistance that is not indis"pensable." *
The part that Washington took on this occasion did not disturb his cordial friendship with La Fayette. At this time the latter applied for and obtained permission to go home on leave of absence. His departure was delayed for several weeks by a severe illness, which, according to his own account, had been caused in great measure by his excesses in wine.** Nevertheless, he was able to embark at Boston be
* To the President of the Congress, November 14. 1778.
** "Ayant veille', bu, et travaille' beaucoup k Philadelphie Ftfte'
"partout avec empressement il se fortihait de vin, de the' et de rhum, mais "a FiahkilL, huit milles du'qnartier ge'ne>al, il fallut ceder h la violence "d'une maladie inflammatoire." (Me'raoires de ma main, Corresp., vol. i. p. 61. ed. 1837.)
fore the close of the year. His reception by his countrymen was warm, almost enthusiastic. "On arriving at Court," says he, "I had the honour to be consulted by all the Ministers, "and what is far better, embraced by all the ladies!" Whatever his influence might be from his high connexions, or from his General's rank, it was exerted by him on behalf of his American friends. He zealously urged the Cabinet to send over the Atlantic both early and effective aid.
In the West Indies the intended attack on St. Lucia was made, and the island taken by the English. * They likewise took St. Pierre and Miquelon, while, on the other hand, the Marquis de Bouille', the French Governor of Martinico, made himself master of Dominica.
But the newly kindled war between France and England was waged much nearer home. The command of the Channel fleet had been entrusted to Admiral Keppel; a choice that did honour both to him and to the Ministry, since Keppel, as a Member of Parliament, was a zealous opponent of Lord North. Under Keppel served Sir Hugh Palliser, like himself a good officer, but of different politics; one of the Lords of the Admiralty, and of course a supporter of Government in the House of Commons. When Keppel first arrived at Spithead, he found only six ships of the line ready for sea, but after the French Declaration of the 13th of March, there were the most active preparations in all the ports. The King himself repaired to Portsmouth to animate the officers, and held a levee on board the Prince George, the flag-ship of the Admiral. By unwearied exertion the number of ships of the line w^s within a few weeks increased to twenty. With this armament Keppel sailed from St. Helen's in the month of June. It was not long ere he fell in with two French frigates sent out to reconnoitre; the Licorne and the Belle Poule. In virtue of his full powers the Admiral decided on attacking them; thus, in fact, commencing the war.
* A Narrative, by the Hon. Colin Lindsay, of the occupation and defence of St. Lucia, will be found in the "Lives of the Lindsays" (vol. iii. pp. 330—356.), a most pleasant well-written book, in which the pride of ancestry is made subservient to the diffusion of knowledge.
The Licorne he captured; the Belle Poule he drove to shore among the rocks. Next day, however, Keppel sailed away from the coast of France and retired into Portsmouth. For this sudden, and, as it seemed, precipitate retreat he was greatly censured by the public. As he alleged, in vindication, the papers of the Licorne had shown him that anchorage was prepared in Brest harbour for no less than thirty-two ships of the line — a force with which his own manifestly could not cope. It was answered that these papers might be fabricated on purpose to mislead him; and that in any case he ought not to have given orders for retreat without first calling a Council of War.
In July the Admiral put to sea once more. His fleet had been reinforced, but was still inferior in numbers to the French, which, under Count D'Orvilliers, had already sailed from Brest. The two fleets met off Ushant, where, on the 27th of the month, there ensued an engagement of three hours. The result was not decisive. Several hundred men were killed or wounded, and several ships damaged on either side; and the combatants were separated by a squall of wind and by the approach of night. Admiral Keppel had both made signals and sent orders to Sir Hugh Palliser to come up and renew the conflict, but Sir Hugh, whose own ship had suffered greatly, could not obey him. In the night Count D'Orvilliers steered back to Brest, and next morning, Admiral Keppel, finding pursuit in vain, set sail for Plymouth.
A nation like the British, long familiar with naval victory, could ill brook the news of a pitched battle, still less of an inglorious retreat. Keppel and Palliser finding themselves arraigned, began to cast blame upon each other. Sir Hugh commenced, far from discreetly, by publishing a vindication in the newspapers —. a vindication which his chief, when required by letter, refused to confirm. The spark thus kindled was blown by the angry breath of partisans; each eager to claim and to support the Admiral of his own political opinions. No sooner had the two Houses met again in Novem