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SULLIVAN'S CHAGRIN AT D'ESTAING'S DEPARTURE.

125

possibility of failure. On the other General Sullivan was so chagrined hand, it could not be abandoned at the and disgusted at the movements of present juncture without doing great the French* that on the 24th in the injury to the American cause, for the general orders, he inserted the followvolunteers under General Sullivan ing paragraph: had undertaken the expedition in the

“The General cannot help lamenting the sudexpectation of receiving aid from the den and unexpected departure of the French fleet, French fleet and had used every en

as lie finds it las a tendency to discourage some

who placed great depen lence upon the assistance deavor to furnish the army with sup- cf it; though he can by no reans suppose the plies. To be abandoned by the French

arır.y, or any part of it, endangered by this move

rent. Ee yet hopes the event will prove America at so critical a moment, in conjunction able to procure that by her own arms, which her with the ill success of the other Ameri- allies refuse to assist in obtaining." † can armies up to the present time,

On the 26th he tried to smooth over could not help but produce a high

the reflection contained in this parastate of exasperation. The disaffected would also have good cause to deride graph by declaring that he did not

mean to insinuate that the departure the Americans for their faith in the

of the French fleet was bccause of a French and the expected aid from

fixed determination not to assist the them. They said that it would be

Americans, and that he would not very difficult for the fleet in its pres

wish to give to ungenerous and illibent condition to pass the shoals of

eral minds the slightest reason to Nantucket; that it could be repaired make so unfair an interpretation. On at Newport as well as at Boston; and

the 26th, after his arrival at Boston, finally that its present station offered

d'Estaing wrote a note to Congress advantages over Boston for distress

in which he attempted to justify the ing the enemy. On the other hand, if

departure of his fleet. He said that a superior fleet should appear, Boston harbor would be no safer than that at he had been deceived with regard to

water and provisions were low; that Newport. These arguments failed to

these two articles, the need of which change d'Estaing's determination,

was growing more and more importand, though a protest signed by all the

ant; and that it was necessary for leading officers except Lafayette was sent to the Count,* he adhered to his

475. See also Sullivan's, Lafayette's and Laurens' plan, and on August 22, 1778, sailed

letters to Washington, in Sparks, Correspondence

of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 178–188. away from Newport, three days later

* See Greene's characterization of Sullivan's conarriving at Boston.t

duct in his letter to Washington, Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., p. 188 et seq.

See also Tower, Marquis de LaFayette, vol. i., p. * See the text in Amory, Life of Sullivan,

478 et seq. 77.

† Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., p. 487. † Fiske, American Revolution, vol. ii.,

See also F. V. Greene, Life of Greene, pp. 11278; Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. i., pp. 469- 113.

VOL. III - 9

pp. 76

126

WASHINGTON'S EFFORTS TO RECONCILE COMMANDERS.

him to consider the condition of his the French sailors and the inhabitfleet at the present time rather than to ants of the city. risk its total annihilation by being in Washington readily foresaw that a no condition to withstand an attack. general and mutual irritation would He said that when notice of the ar- be productive of still greater violence, rival of British reinforcements was and he therefore exerted every effort received, his ships were in such a sit- to calm the minds of both parties. In uation that had he returned to New- this he was aided by Lafayette, who port, Howe would have had a great was equally well beloved by the advantage if an attack should be French and Americans.* Lafayette made. Consequently, he felt justified naturally owed his first duty to the in going to Boston, but he did not king, but he was devoted to Washingthink that the American generals were ton, and put forth every effort to justified in expressing their opinions reconcile the French and American in such strong language. Undoubt- commanders. Washington wrote to edly the Count himself cannot be held General Heath in command at Boston blameable for the departure of the and to Sullivan and Greene at Rhode fleet, for all his officers, men of long Island. In his letter to Heath he experience, insisted that the preserva

stated his fears “ that the departure tion of the fleet demanded it. Never- of the French fleet from Rhode Istheless, the American commander and land, at so critical a moment, would the soldiers under him were sorely not only weaken the confidence of the disappointed, because had the French people in their new allies, but produce commander returned to Newport, the such prejudice and resentment as British garrison would have been com- might prevent their giving the fleet, pelled to surrender long before Howe in its present distress, such zealous could have arrived with aid. Conse- and effectual assistance as was dequently, as the Americans said, manded by the exigence of affairs, “ there never was a prospect so fa- and the true interests of America." vorable, blasted by such a shameful He added “ that it would be sound desertion.” So bitter was the disap- policy to combat these effects, and to pointment and chagrin that a clamor give the best construction of what had arose against the whole French nation happened; and at the same time to and letters were sent to Boston full of

nake strenuous exertions for putting bitter invective intended to prejudice the French fleet as soon as possible in the inhabitants against d'Estaing

a condition to defend itself, and be and his officers. It was only with the

useful." He furthermore said: greatest difficulty that the cooler and more judicious part of the community

See Washington's letters to Lafayette, in were able to preserve peace between Sparks, Life of Washington, pp. 280-281.

WASHINGTON'S LETTERS AND THEIR EFFECT.

127

cers. *

“ The departure of the fleet from Rhode Island tions of success, and, which I deem a still worse is not yet publicly announced here; but when it consequence, I fear it will sow the seeds of dis. is, I intend to ascribe it to necessity produced by sension and distrust between us and our new the damage received in the late storm. This, it allies, unless the most prudent measures be taken appears to me, is the idea which ought to be gen- to suppress the feuds and jealousies that have alerally propagated. As I doubt not the force of ready arisen. I depend much on your temper and these reasons will strike you equally with myself, influence to conciliate that animosity which subI would recommend to you to use your utmost sists between the American and French officers influence to palliate and soften matters, and to in our service. I beg you will take every measure induce those whose business it is to provide suc- to keep the protest entered into by the general cors of every kind for the fleet, to employ their officers from being made public. Congress, sensi. utmost zeal and activity in doing it. It is our ble of the ill consequences that will flow from duty to make the best of our misfortunes, and our differences being known to the world, have not suffer passion to interfere with out interest passed a resolve to that purpose. Upon the whole, and the public good."

my dear sir, you can conceive my meaning better

than I can express it; and I therefore fully deOn September 1 he wrote to Gen

pend on your exerting yourself to heal all private eral Sullivan as follows:*

animosities between our principal officers and the

French, and to prevent all illiberal expressions and “ The disagreement between the army under

reflections that may fall from the army at large.” your command and the fleet has given me very singular uneasiness. The continent at large is

Greene therefore employed every concerned in our cordiality, and it should be kept up by all possible means consistent with our honor means to conciliate the French offiand policy. First impressions, you know, are gen

Washington exerted all his erally longest remembered, and will serve to fix in a general degree our national character among

diplomacy to heal the breach with the the French. In our conduct towards them we French commander, and in writing to should remember, that they are a people old in

Count d'Estaing took no notice of the war, very strict in military etiquette, and apt to take fire where others seem scarcely warmed. Per

disagreements which had occurred. mit me to recommend in the most particular man.

He composed his letter so that it ner, the cultivation of harmony and good agreement, and your endeavors to destroy that ill

would soothe every unpleasant sensahumor which may have got into the officers. It tion which might have disturbed his is of the utmost importance, also, that the sol. diers and the people should know nothing of this

mind.† As a result of these combined misunderstanding; or, if it has reached them, that efforts, good understanding and corways may be used to stop its progress, and pre- diality returned, although there were vent its effect." †

several manifestations of ill-will To General Greene, Washington toward the French sailors, such as wrote:

street brawls, etc “I have not now time to take notice of the several arguments which were made use of, for

*F. V. Greene, Life of Greene, pp. 113–114, 122–

123. and against the Count's quitting the harbor of Newport, and sailing for Boston. Right or wrong,

† See Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., p. it will probably disappoint our sanguine expecta

494; also Johnson's Life of Greene, vol. i., pp.

108–125; Ford's ed. of Washington's Writings, * Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. vol. vii., pp. 160–164, 166, 168–175, 180, 182; Gorvi., p. 44.

don, American Revolution, vol. iii., pp. 165–169, † See also Sullivan's reply, in which he states 197–198, 200; Stedman, American War, vol. ii., that he has done everything to satisfy d'Estaing pp. 38, 46–47. and to restore perfect harmony.- Sparks, Corre- See Greene's letter to Washington, in Sparks, spondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 204–205; Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. Amory, Life of Sullivan, p. 79.

206-207.

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128

SULLIVAN RETREATS; REPULSES BRITISH ATTACK.

Meanwhile the volunteers were leav- movements, or had the winds favored ing the American army in Rhode Is- Clinton more than they did, Sullivan land; in the course of twenty-four would probably have been in a most hours from 200 to 300 deserted, so desperate position, for the British that inside of three days Sullivan's fleet would have intercepted his pasforce was not much larger than that sage to the mainland while a superior of the British.* Therefore Sullivan

Therefore Sullivan British force would have attacked him determined to raise the siege and to by land. As it was, however, he exretire to the northern end of the is- tricated the army from a perilous land, preparatory to an entire aban- position in the nick of time, for which donment of the expedition. On the he was thanked by Congress.* 29th of August the army began the Finding upon his arrival that march, and though they were warmly Sullivan had retreated, Clinton immepursued by the Hessians and British, diately set out on his return to New the retreat was conducted without se- York; but, desiring that the expedirious loss.f When the American army tion should not return to the city arrived at Quaker Hill, however, a

without having accomplished somelarge force of the British attacked it thing noteworthy, he placed the troops and in the ensuing engagement the

aboard the transports under comloss was severe on both sides. Finally mand of General Grey, giving the latthe Americans under Greene suc

ter officer orders to make an expediceeded in repulsing the British, and

tion to Buzzard's Bay. Grey sailed during the night of the 30th the whole to Acushnet River, where he landed army under Sullivan reached the September 5, 1778, and destroyed all mainland by the passages of Bristol

the shipping in the vicinity, amountand Howland's Ferry. I Sullivan

Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., made his retreat just in time, for the p. 652, note; Journals of Congress, vol. iv., p. 378. next day Clinton arrived with a light For other works on the Sullivan expedition see

Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, vol. vi., squadron containing about 4,000 men. pp. 592–603; T. C. Amory, Life of Major-General Had Sullivan been less prompt in his

John Sullivan; T. Balch, The French in America, 1777–83; G. W. Cu m, Fortification Defences of

Narragansett Bay; W. Heath, Correspondence, in * Greene, Life of Greene, vol. ii., pp. 125-141; Massachusetts Historical Collections, series vii., Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., pp. vol. iv.; A. T. Mahan, Influence of Sea Power 650-651.

upon History; G. C. Mason, The British Fleet † Heath's Memoirs, p. 177 (Abbatt's ed.).

in Rhode Island, in Rhode Island Historical Col. | Bancroft, vol. v., p. 286; Richman, Rhode lections, vol. vii.; S. S. Rider, The Battle of Rhode Island, pp. 231-232; F. V. Greene, Life of Greene, Island, in Rider's Historical Tracts, no. 6; S. S. pp. 114-115; Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. Rider, The Rhode Island Black Regiment, in Hisi., pp. 488-489; Carrington, Battles of the Revolu- torical Tracts, no. 10; J. G. Rosengarten, The tion, p. 454; Greene's letter to Washington, in German Soldiers in Newport, 1776-79, in Rhode Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., Island Historical Magazine, vol. vii.; E. M. Stone, p. 192 et seq.; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolu- Our French Allies, 1778–1782; James B. Perkins, tion, vol. i., pp. 651-652.

France in the American Revolution (1911).

PREDATORY EXPEDITIONS; BRITISH DEPART FOR SOUTH. 129

ing to more than 70 sail. He then went tunity to put to sea, and on November to New Bedford and Fairhaven, the 3 sailed for the West Indies. On the greater part of which towns he laid

. same day General Grant in command in ashes, and where he also destroyed of a detachment of 6,000 men from a large quantity of military and naval

the British army, convoyed by a fleet stores, provisions, etc. He had landed

under Commodore Hotham, set sail at 6 o'clock in the evening, and so

for the same quarter. Toward the rapid were his movements that be

end of the same month another defore noon of the next day the whole

tachment of more than 2,000 Britwork of destruction had been accom

ish troops under Lieutenant-colonel plished and the troops reimbarked.

Campbell, embarked from New York Grey next proceeded to Martha's

for the purpose of invading the Vineyard, where he burned several

Southern States. This latter body of vessels, destroyed much property, compelled the inhabitants to sur

troops was escorted by Commodore render their arms, and forced them

Hyde Parker. Thus the British at to supply him with a large number of

New York were left only a sufficient sheep and oxen, which proved a sea

force to defend the city against sonable relief to the British in New

attack.* York.*

As the campaign in the Northern About the middle of September,

and Middle States was now closed, 1778, Admiral Byron, the successor to

Washington put his army into winter Lord Howe in command of the British quarters, stationing the main body on fleet, arrived at New York. As his both sides of the Hudson near Middlefleet was in a much shattered condi- brook, West Point and Danbury, tion because of stormy weather, he while the artillery was sent to was unable to put to sea again until Pluckemin. Thus the army was staOctober 18, on which day he set sail tioned in various cantonments from for Boston in quest of d'Estaing. Long Island Sound to the Delaware, Again ill success attended him, for on and so arranged that in case of November 1, when he reached Boston

necessity all the other bodies could Bay, a storm arose which so damaged quickly reinforce any detachment that his ships that he was compelled to

was suddenly attacked. In command hasten to Rhode Island for repairs.t

of the troops at Danbury was General Having completed the repairs to his

Putnam; McDougall commanded in ships, d'Estaing seized this oppor

the Highlands; and General Lincoln Gordon, American Revolution, vol. iii.,

was sent to take command of the (ed. 1788); Stedman, American War, vol. ii., pp. 32, 39, 44.

See Ford's ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. † Stedman, American War, vol. ii., pp. 46–47. vii., passim.

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