THE life of this patriot and hero has been portrayed by the able and impartial hand of the late General David Humphreys, and a brief sketch, chiefly from that work, must suffice for the present purpose. General Putnam was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on the 7th day of January, 1718. He was indebted to nature, more than education, for a vigorous constitution, for mental endowments, and for that undaunted courage and active enterprise which were his prominent characteristics. Much confidence was reposed in his military prowess and judgment, and he was remarkable for a faithful perseverance in all the duties of his station, and for the most undeviating principles of honor, humanity and benevolence. In the year 1739, be removed to Pomfret, in Connecticut, where he applied himself to the art of agriculture. His biographer, as a display of character in early life, has recorded an instance of his bold attack of a wolf while in her den; but as the story has been frequently promulgated, it need not be repeated in this place. When in the year 1755, the war between England and France broke out in America, Putnam was appointed to the command of a company of rangers, and was distinguished for his active services as a partizan officer. In 1757, he was promoted to a majority, and being in a warm and close engagement with a party of French and savages, be had discharged his fuzee several times, when at length it missed fire while the muzzle was pressed against the breast of a large and well-proportioned Indian. This adversary, with a tremendous war-whoop, sprang forward with his lifted hatchet, and compelled him to surrender; and having bound him fast to a tree returned to the battle. For a considerable time the tree to which Major Putnam was tied was directly between the fires of the two parties, than which no conceivable situation could be more deplorable. The balls flew incessantly from each side, many struck the tree, while some passed through the sleeves and skirts of his coat. In this state of jeopardy, unable to move his body, to stir his limbs, or even to incline his head, he remained more than an hour-so equally balanced and so obstinate was the fight! At one moment, while the battle swerved, in favor of the enemy, a young savage, chose an odd way of discovering his humor. He found Putnam bound. He might have despatched him at a blow. But he loved better to excite the terrors of the prisoner by hurling a tomahawk at his head, or rather it should seem his object was to see how near he could throw it without touching him. The weapon struck in the tree a number of times at a hair's-breadth from the mark. When the Indian had finished his amusement, a French bas-officer, a much more inveterate savage by nature, though descended from so humane and polished a nation, perceiving Putnam, came to him, and, levelling a fuzee within a foot of his breast, attempted to discharge it - it missed fire. Ineffectually did the intended victim solicit the treatment due to his situation, by repeating that he was a prisoner of war. The degenerate Frenchman did not understand the language of honor or of nature; deaf to their voice, and dead to sensibility, he violently and repeatedly pushed the muzzle of his gun against Putnam's rib's, and finally gave him a cruel blow on the jaw with the butt-end of his piece. After this dastardly deed he left him.
At length the enemy was driven from the field of battle, and, as they were retiring, Putnam was untied by the Indian who had made him prisoner, and whom he afterwards called master. Having been conducted to some distance from the place of action, be was stripped of his coat, vest, stockings and shoes; loaded with as many of the packs of the wounded as could be piled on him, strongly pinioned and his wrists tied as closely together as they could be pulled with a cord. After he had marched through no pleasant paths, in this painful manner, for many a tedious mile, the party, who were excessively fatigued, halted to breathe. His bands were now immoderately swelled from the tightness of the ligature, and the pain had become intolerable. His feet were so much scratched, that the blood dropped fast from them. Exhausted with bearing a burden above his strength, and frantic with torments exquisite beyond endurance, he intreated the Irish interpreter to implore, as the last and only grace he desired of the savages, that they would knock him on the head, and take his scalp at once, or loose his hands. A French officer, instantly interposing, ordered his hands to be unbound, and some of the packs to be taken off. By this time the Indian who captured him and had been absent with the wounded, coming up, gave him a pair of moccasins, and expressed great indignation at the unworthy treatment his prisoner had suffered.
That savage chief again returned, to the care of the wounded, and the Indians, about two hundred in number, went before the rest of the party to the place where the whole were that night to encamp. They took with them Major Putnam, on whom, besides innumerable other outrages, they had the barbarity to inflict a deep wound withthe tomahawk in the left cheek. His sufferings were in this place to be consummated. A scene of horror, infinitely greater than had ever met his eyes before, was now preparing. It was determined to roast him alive. For this purpose they led him into a dark forest, stripped him naked, bound him to a tree, and piled dry brush, with other fuel, at a small distance, in a circle round him. They accompanied their labors, as if for his funeral dirge, with screams and sounds, inimitable but by savage voices. Then they set the piles on fire. A sudden shower damped the rising flame. Still they strove to kindle it; at last the blaze ran fiercely round the circle. Major Putnam soon began to feel the scorching beat. His hands were so tied that he could move his body. He often shifted sides as the fire approached. This sight, at the very idea of which all but savages must shudder, afforded the highest diversion to his inhuman tormentors, who demonstrated the delirium of their joy by corresponding yells, dances and gesticulations. He saw clearly that his final hour was inevitaby come. He summoned all his resolution, and composed his mind, so far as the circumstances could admit, to bid an eternal farewell to all he held most dear. To quit the world would scarcely have cost a single pang; but for the idea of home, but for the remembrance of domestic endearments, of the affectionate partner of his soul, and of their beloved offspring. His thought was ultimately fixed on a happier state of existence, beyond the tortures he was beginning to endure. The bitterness of death, even of that death which is accompanied with the keenest agonies, was, in a manner, past - nature, with a feeble struggle, was quitting its last hold on sublunary things, when a French officer rushed through the crowd, opened a way by scattering the burning brands, and unbound the victim. It was Molang himself - to whom a savage, unwilling to see another human victim immolated, had run and communicated the tidings. That commandant spurned and severely reprimanded the barbarians, whose nocturnal powwas and hellish orgies he suddenly ended. Putnam did not want for feeling or gratitude. The French commander, fearing to trust him alone with them, remained till he could safely deliver him into the hands of his master.
The savage approached his prisoner kindly, and seemed to treat him with particular affection. He offered him some hard biscuit; but finding that he could not chew them, on account of the blow he had received from the Frenchman, this more humane savage soaked some of the biscuit in water, and made him suck the pulp-like part. Determined, however, not to lose his captive, the refreshmentment being finished, he took the moccasins from his feet, and tied them to one of his wrists; then directing him to lie down on his back on the hard ground, he stretched one arm to its full length, and bound it fast to a young tree; the other arm was extended and bound in the same manner - his legs were stretched apart, and fastened to two saplings. Then a number of tall, but slender poles were cut down, which, with some long bushes, were laid across his body from head to foot: on each side lay as many Indians as could conveniently find lodging, in order to prevent the possibility of his escape. In this disagreeable and painful posture he remained till morning. During the night, (the longest and most dreary conceivable) our hero used to relate that he felt a ray of cheerfulness come casually across his mind, and could not even refrain from smiling when he reflected on this ludicrous group for a painter, of which he himself was the principal figure.
The next day be was allowed his blanket and moccasins and permitted to march without carrying any pack or receiving any insult. To allay his extreme hunger, a little bear's-meat was given, which he sucked through his teeth. At night the party arrived at Ticonderoga, and the prisoner was placed under the care of a French guard. The savages, who had been prevented from glutting their diabolical thirst for blood, took this opportunity of manifesting their malevolence for the disappointment by horrid grimaces and angry gestures; but they were suffered no more to offer violence or personal indignity to him.
After having been examined by the Marquis de Montcalm, Major Putnam was conducted to Montreal by a French officer, who treated him with the greatest indulgence and humanity.
At this place were several prisoners. Colonel Peter Schuyler, remarkable for his philanthropy, generosity and friendship, was of the number. No sooner had he heard of Major Putnam's arrival, than be went to the interpreter's quarters, and inquired whether he had a Provincial major in his custody? He found Major Putnam in a comfortable condition - without coat, waistcoat, or hose - the remnant of his clothing miserably dirty and ragged - his beard long and squalid - his legs torn by thorns and briers - his face gashed with wounds and swollen with bruises. Colonel Schuyler, irritated beyond all sufferance at such a sight, could scarcely restrain his speech within limits consistent with the prudence of a prisoner and the meekness of a Christian. Major Putnam was immediately treated according to his rank, clothed in a decent manner, and supplied with money by this liberal and sympathetic patron of the distressed, and by his assistance he was soon after exchanged.
In the year 1760, Major Putnam was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, and served under General Amherst in the conquest of Canada. He embraced numerous opportunities of achieving feats of valor, and was particularly honored by his general for the promptitude and ability with which he acquitted himself of his arduous duty. "Colonel Putnam, at the expiration of ten years from his first receiving a commission, after having seen as much service, endured as many hardships, encountered as many dangers, and acquired as many laurels, as any officer of his rank, with great satisfaction laid aside his uniform and returned to his plough." No character stood fairer in the public eye for integrity, bravery and patriotism. It was proverbially said, as well by British as Provincial officers, that, in a service of great peril and hardship, from 1755 to 1763, "he dared to lead where any dared to follow."
At the commencement of hostilities between the colonies and the mother-country, Colonel Putnam, on hearing of the battle at Lexington, left his plough in the middle of the field, and, without changing his clothes, repaired to Cambridge, riding in a single day one hundred miles. He was soon appointed a major-general in the provincial army, and, returning to Connecticut, he made no delay in bringing on a body of troops. Not long after his appointment, the commander of the British army, unwilling that so valuable an officer should act in opposition, privately conveyed to him a proposal that if be would quit the rebel party, he might rely on being made a major-general in the British establishment, and receiving a great pecuniary compensation for his services; but he spurned the offer. "On the 16th of June,1775, it was determined in a council of war, at which General Putnam assisted, that a fortified post should be established at or near Bunker-hill. General Putnam marched with the first detachment and commenced the work; he was the principal agent or engineer who traced the lines of the redoubt, and be continued most, if not all the night with the workmen: at any rate, he was on the spot before sun-rising in the morning, and had taken his station on the top of Bunker-hill, and participated in the danger as well as the glory of that day." In the spring of the year 1818 an account of the battle of Bunkerhill was published in the Port Folio by Henry Dearborn, Esq., major-general in the army of the United States, in which he animadverts on the conduct of General Putnam with great severity. To this production Daniel Putnam, Esq., son of the late general , has published a rejoinder, from which I have taken the testimonials which follow.
A Letter from the Hon. Judge Grosvenor, of Pomfret, Connecticut.
"Being under the command of General Putnam Putnam, part of our regiment,and a much larger number of Massachusetts troops, under Colonel Prescott, were ordered to march on the evening of the 16th of June, 1775 to Breed's-hill, where, under the immediate superintendence of General Putnam, ground was broken and a redoubt formed. On the following day, the 17th, dispositions were made to deter the advance of the enemy, as there was reason to believe an immediate attack was intended. General Putnam during the period was extremely active, and directed principally the operations. All were animated, and their general inspired confidence by his example. The British army, having made dispositions for landing at Morton's Point, were covered by the fire of shot and shells from Copp's-hill in Boston, which it had opened on our redoubt early in the morning, and continued the greater part of the day. At this moment a detachment of four lieutenants, of which I was one, and one hundred and twelve men, selected the preceding day from General Putnam's regiment, under Captain Knowlton, were by the general ordered to take post at a rail-fence on the left of the breastwork that ran north from the redoubt to the bottom of Breed's-hill. This order was promptly executed, and our detachment, in advancing to the post, took one rail fence and placed it against another, as a partial cover, nearly parallel with the line of the breastwork, and extended our left nearly to Mystic river, Each man was furnished with one pound of gun-powder and forty-eight balls. This ammunition was received, however, prior to marching to Breed's-hill. In this position our detachment remained till a second division of British troops landed, when they commenced a fire of their field artillery of several rounds, and particularly against the rail-fence; then formed in columns, advanced to the attack, displayed in line at about the distance of musket-shot, and commenced firing. At this instant our whole line opened on the enemy, and so precise and fatal was our fire, that in the course of a short time they gave way, and retired in disorder out of musket-shot, leaving before us many killed and wounded. There was but a short respite on the part of the British, as their lines were soon filled up and led against us, when they were met as before, and forced back with great loss. On reinforcements joining the enemy, they made a direct advance on the redoubt, and being successful, which our brave Captain Knowlton perceiving, ordered a retreat of his men, in which he was sustained by two companies under the command of Captains Clark and Chester. The loss in our detachment I presume was nearly equal. Of my own immediate command of thirty men and one subaltern, there were eleven killed and wounded; among the latter was myself, though not so severely as to prevent my retiring. At the rail-fence there was not posted any corps save our own, under Knowlton, at the time the firing commenced; nor did I hear of any other being there, till long after the action. Other troops, it is said, were ordered to join us, but refused doing so. Of the officers on the ground, the most active within my observation were General Putnam, Colonel Presscott, and Captain Knowlton; but no doubt there were many more, equally brave and meritorious, who must naturally have escaped the eye of one attending to his own immediate command.
"Thus you have a brief statement of my knowledge of the action, without descending to particulars. To conclude, it is matter of surprise, even of astonishment to me, my dear air, that I am called on to state my opinion of the character of your honored father, General Putnam, who was ever the first in public life at the post of honor and danger, and who, in his private conduct, was excelled by none. Look but at his services in the French and Indian wars from 1755 to 1763, and finally at those of the revolution, and you will need no proof to refute the calumny of common defamers.
"With respect, I am, yours, truly, "THOMAS GROSVENOR.
"Colonel Daniel Putnam."
The following is a letter from Colonel John Trumbull, of New York, an officer of distinction in the revolutionary war, and now a celebrated historical painter, employed in his profession by the government of the United States, dated, New York, 30th of March, 1818:
"In the summer of 1786, 1 became acquainted in London with Colonel John Small, of the British army, who had served in America many years, and had known General Putnam intimately during the war of Canada, from 1756 to 1763. From him I had the two following anecdotes respecting the battle of Bunker-hill. I shall nearly repeat his words: Looking at the picture which I had then almost completed, he said: 'I don't like the situation in which you have placed my old friend Putnam.; you have not done him justice. I wish you would alter that part of your picture, and introduce a circumstance which actually happened and which I can never forget. When the British troops advanced the second time to the attack of the redoubt, I with other officers was in front Of the line to encourage the men; we had advanced very near the works undisturbed, when an irregular fire like a feu de joie was poured in on us; it was cruelly fatal. The troops fell back, and when I looked to the right and left, I saw not one officer standing. I glanced my eye to the enemy, and saw several young men levelling their pieces at me; I knew their excellence as marksmen, and considered myself gone. At this moment my old friend Putnam rushed forward, and striking up the muzzles of their with his sword, cried out, 'For God's sake, my lads, don't fire at that man! - I love him as I do my brother.' We were so near each other that I heard his words distinctly. He was obeyed; I bowed, thanked him, and walked away unmolested.'
"The other anecdote relates to the death
of General Warren. At the moment when
the troops succeeded in carrying the redoubt and the Americans were in full retreat, General Howe, who
had been hurt by a spent ball, which bruised his ankle, was leaning
on my arm. He called suddenly to me : 'Do you see that elegant
young man who has just fallen ? - do you know him?' I looked
to the spot to which he pointed: 'Good God, sir, I believe it
is my friend Warren.' 'Leave me then instantly - run - keep off
the troops-save him if possible.' - I flew to the spot. 'My dear friend' I said to him, 'Ihope you are
not badly hurt.' He looked up, seemed
to recollect me, smiled, and died! A musket-ball had passed through
the upper part of his head. Colonel Small had the character of
an honorable, upright man, and could have no conceivable motive
for deviating from truth in relating these circumstances to me;
I therefore believe them to be true. You remember, my dear Sir,
the viper biting the file. The character of your father for courage,
humanity, generosity and integrity is too firmly established,
by the testimony of those who did know him, to be tarnished
by the breath of one who confesses that he did not. Accept,
my dear air, this feeble tribute to your father's memory, from
one who knew him, respected him, loved him
- and who wishes health and prosperity to you and all the good
"Daniel Putnam, Esquire."
"I shall make no comment," says Colonel Putnam, "on the first anecdote by Colonel Small, except that the circumstances were related by General Putnam, without any essential alteration, soon after the battle; and that there was an interview of the parties on the lines between Prospect and Bunker-hill, at the request of Colonel Small, not long afterwards."
It is very apparent that General Washington reposed great confidence in the skill and judgment of General Putnam, or he would not have intrusted him with the command of the city of New York at the moment when it was expected that the whole of the British land and naval forces would attempt to take possession of that city. On the 29th of March, 1776, the commander-in-chief gave to General Putnam the following orders and instructions: "You will, no doubt, make the best despatch in getting to New York; on your arrival there, you will assume the command, and immediately proceed in continuing to execute the plan proposed by Major-General Lee, for fortifying that city, and securing the passes of the East and North rivers. If, on consultation with the brigadier-generals and engineers, any alteration in that plan is thought necessary, you are at liberty to make it, cautiously avoiding to break in too much on his main design, unless where it may be apparently necessary so to do, and that by the general voice and opinion of the gentlemen above mentioned. You will meet the quarter-master-general, Colonel Mifflin, and commissary-general, Colonel Trumbull, at New York. As these are both men of excellent talents in their different departments, you will do well to give them all the authority and assistance they require; and should a council of war be necessary, it is my direction that they assist at it. Your long service and experience will, better than my particular directions at this distance, point out to you the works most proper to be first raised, and your perseverance, activity and zeal will lead you, without my recommending it, to exert every nerve to disappoint the enemy's designs."
"The faithful execution of the duties
here enjoined were acknowledged by the commander-in-chief after
his arrival in New York, and his thanks were publicly expressed
general orders. Two days before the battle of Flatbush, in consequence of the sickness of that excellent officer, Major-General Greene, who had commanded on Long IsIand, General Putnam was ordered to the command of that post, and assisted in the arduous and complicated difficulties of that masterly retreat. In the memorable and distressing flight of the American army through New Jersey, in 1776, General Putnam was always near - always the
friend, the supporter, and confidant of his beloved chief; and the moment after reaching the western bank of the Delaware with the rear of the army, he was ordered to Philadelphia, to fortify and defend that city against a meditated attack. When, in the summer of 1777, Fort
Montgomery was captured by the enemy, and it was determined to erect another fortification on the banks of the Hudson for the defence of that river, the commander-in-chief left it wholly to the judgment of General Putnam to fix on the spot, who decided in favor of West Point; and, as his biographer has remarked, 'it is no vulgar praise to say, that to him belongs the glory of having chosen this rock of our military salvation.'"
As an instance of the decision of his temper, the following is deserving of notice. A man by the name of Nathan Palmer was detected in General Putnam's camp, who, on trial, was found to be a lieutenant in the tory new levies. Governor Tryon, their commander, addressed General Putnam, and reclaimed Palmer as a British officer, and threatened vengeance in case he should be executed. This drew from him a reply in the following laconic style:
"SIR: Nathan Palmer, a lieutenant in
your king's service, was taken in my camp
as a spy, - he was tried as a spy, - he was condemned
as a spy-and you may rest assured, sir, that he shall
be hanged as a spy.
"I have the honor to be, &c. "ISRAEL PUTNAM.
"His Excellency Governor Tryon.
"P. S. Afternoon. He is hanged."
In December, 1779, while on his return from Connecticut to head-quarters, this venerable man was attacked by a paralytic affection, under which he languished till the 19th of May, 1790, when his honorable and useful life was brought to a final close. The qualities of his mind were sincerity, generosity and an invincible sense of duty. The moral virtues and duties of piety and pure religion were objects of his serious reflection, and the late Rev. Dr. Dwight, in his Travels, has eulogized these as eminent traits in his character.
Extract of a Letter from Gen. Washington to Gen. Putnam, dated
"HEAD-QUARTERS, 2d June, 1783.
"DEAR SIR: Your favor of the 20th of May I received with much pleasure. For I can assure you that, among the many worthy and meritorious officers with whom I have had the happiness to be connected in service through the course of this war, and from whose cheerful assistance in the various and trying vicissitudes of a complicated contest, the name of Putnam is not forgotten; nor will it be, but with that stroke of time which shall obliterate from my mind the remembrance of all those toils and fatigues through which we have struggled for the preservation and establishment of the rights, liberties, and independence of our country. Your congratulations on the happy prospect of peace and independent security, with their attendant blessings to the United States, I receive with great satisfaction; and beg you will accept a return of my congratulations to you, on this auspicious event - an event in which, great as it is in itself, and glorious as it will probably be in its consequences, you have a right to participate largely, from the distinguished part you have contributed towards its attainment. I anticipate with pleasure the day, and I trust not far off, when I shall quit the busy scenes of military employment, and retire to the more tranquil walks of domestic life. In that, or whatever other situation Providence may dispose of my future days, the remembrance of the many friendships and connexions I have had the happiness to contract with the gentlemen of the army, will be one of my most grateful reflections.
"Under this contemplation, and impressed with the sentiments of benevolence and regard, I commend you, my dear Sir, my other friends, and, with them, the interests and happiness of our dear country, to the keeping and protection of Almighty God.
"I have the honor to be, &c., &c.
"GEORGE WASHINGTON. "To the Hon. Major-General Putnam."
The following eulogium was pronounced at the grave of General Putnam by Dr. A. Waldo:
"Those venerable relics! once delighted in the endearing domestic virtues which constitute the excellent neighbor-husband-parent-and worthy brother! liberal and substantial in his friendship; - unsuspicious - open - and generous; just and sincere in dealing; a benevolent citizen of the world - he concentrated in his bosom the noble qualities of an Honest Man.
"Born a Hero -whom nature taught and cherished in the lap of innumerable toils and dangers, he was terrible in battle! But, from the amiableness of his heart - when carnage ceased, his humanity spread over the field, like the refreshing zephyrs of a summer's evening! The prisoner - the wounded - the sick - the forlorn - experienced the delicate sympathy of this Soldier's Pillar. The poor and the needy of every description, received the charitable bounties of this Christian Soldier.
"He pitied littleness - loved goodness - admired, greatness, and ever aspired to its glorious summit! The friend, the servant, and almost unparalleled lover of his country; - worn with honorable age, and the former toils of war - Putnam rests from his labors!
When the last trump shall renovate his dust -
Still by the mandate of eternal truth,
His soul will flourish in immortal youth!'
Dr. Dwight penned a very excellent inscription, which is engraved on his tomb, but our narrow limits must apologize for its omission in this place.
MAJOR-GENERAL WILLIAM HEATH was a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts, and was from his youth a cultivator of the soil, which was his favorite pursuit. He was not conversant with general literature; but, being particularly attached to the study of military tactics, he acquired a knowledge of modern warfare in its various branches and duties.
At an early period of the opposition of, the colonies to the unjust and oppressive measures of the British ministry, he was an active militia officer, and assiduously engaged in organizing and disciplining the companies of militia and minute-men. In the year 1775, being ranked among the patriots and advocates for liberty, he was by the Provincial Congress commissioned as a brigadier-general.
During the siege of Boston, be was in commission as a general officer, but on no occasion distinguished for enterprise or important services. When General Washington contemplated an attack on Boston, General Heath was offered the command of a division, but he declined the hazardous service. In August, 1776, he was by Congress promoted to the rank of major-general in the continental army, and in the campaign of that year he commanded a division near the enemy's lines at King's-bridge and Morrisania. During the year 1777, and till November, 1778, he was the commanding officer of the Eastern department, and his head-quarters were at Boston. Here devolved on him the very arduous duties of superintendent of the convention troops, captured with General Burgoyne at Saratoga, which were quartered at Cambridge. This station required a character of uncommon firmness and decision, and had General Heath been destitute of these qualities, he would have been subjected to the grossest impositions and indignities, from the haughty Generals Burgoyne and Phillips, and the perverse temper of their soldiery. These officers, lofty in spirit, and of high rank and character, now chagrined by a state of captivity, occasioned to General Heath a series of difficulties and vexations. He soon, however, convinced them that he was neither deficient in spirit nor ignorant of his duty as a military commander. In all his proceedings with these turbulent captives, he supported the authority of Congress and the honor and dignity of the command reposed in him; and he received the entire approbation of that honorable body, to whom he was amenable for his conduct. In the most interesting and critical circumstances in which a general could possibly be placed, he uniformly exhibited a prudence, animation; decision, and firmness which have done him honor, and fully justified the confidence reposed in him.
The cordial and most explicit approbation of the army, the inhabitants of this town, the army and navy of our illustrious ally, the government of this state, his excellency the commander-in-chief, and of Congress, added to the consciousness of his having discharged his trust with fidelity, must in a great measure have alleviated the fatigues incident to his arduous station, and compensated the loss of his health, so much impaired by an incessant attention to business (Continental Journal, printed at Boston, November 12th, 1778.) In June, 1779, General Heath was elected by Congress a commissioner of the Board of War, with a salary of four thousand dollars per annum, and allowed to retain his rank in the army, which he declined, preferring to participate in active operations in the field.
In the summer of 1780, he was directed by the commander-in-chief to repair to Rhode Island, to make arrangements for the reception of the French fleet and army, which were expected soon to arrive. In his interview with the Count Rochambeau and other officers of the French army and navy, he proffered his friendly civilities, and contributed all in his power to their comfortable accommodation, which was productive of a mutual and lasting friendship between them. Indefatigable attention to duty in the various stations assigned him was a prominent trait in his character. In May, 1781, General Heath was directed by the commander-in-chief to repair to the New England states, to represent to their respective executives the distressing condition of our army, and. to solicit a speedy supply of provisions and clothing, in which he was successful. As senior major-general, he was more than once commander of the right wing of our army, and during the absence of the commander-in-chief, at the siege of Yorktown, he was intrusted with the command of the main army, posted at the highlands and vicinity, to guard the important works on the Hudson. On the 24th of June, 1784, hostilities having ceased between the two armies, General Washington addressed a letter to General Heath, expressing his thanks for his meritorious services, and his real affection and esteem, and on the same day they took their final leave.
General Heath was corpulent and bald-headed, which occasioned some of the French officers to observe that he resembled the Marquis of Granby, and he appeared, always pleased with the comparison. As an officer of parade and discipline, he was respectable; but for valorous achievements, we look in vain for his laurels. Had it been his destiny, however, to encounter the peril of a conflict in the field of blood, no one can say with what adroitness he would have played the hero.
Immediately after the close of the war, General Heath was called again into public service in civil life, and continued to hold a seat, either in the legislature or in the council of Massachusetts, till the county of Norfolk was established, in 1793, when he was appointed by Governor Hancock judge of probate and a justice of the court of common pleas; the latter office he did not accept; in the former he continued till his death. He was also a member of the state convention which ratified the federal constitution. All these offices he discharged with assiduity, affability and impartiality, and to the general satisfaction of his fellow citizens.
He had formed his opinion of human nature on the most favorable examples, and to the close of life had a strong regard to popular opinion. He repeatedly allowed himself to be held up and voted for, for the office of governor and lieutenant-governor of the commonwealth, and at one period had, no doubt, a willingness and desire to hold one of these offices. In 1806 he was elected lieutenant-governor. His refusal of the office was matter of surprise to many, and was by some imputed to an unwillingness to serve with Governor Strong; while it was well known to those most intimate with him to be owing to his disapprobation of the conduct of the legislature of that year, in their memorable, attempt to defeat the voice of the people, by setting aside Governor Strong's election.
He was, more than once an elector of president and vice-president of the United States, and gave his vote to those who undertook to appropriate to themselves the name republican till the election, preceding his death, when he withheld his vote from Mr. Madison, on account of his recommending the declaration of war in 1812, and sanctioning the measures which preceded and followed this event, and which caused the general wholly to withdraw his confidence from that administration.
Such was General Heath's public life. His private one was retired and domestic, amiable, orderly, and industrious but not remarkable for hospitality, or a liberal appropriation of property to public purposes. He died at Roxbury, January 24th, 1814, aged seventy-seven years.
GENERAL LINCOLN deserves a high rank in the
fraternity of American heroes. He was born in Hingham, Massachusetts,
January 23d, (O. S.) 1733. His early education was not auspicious
to his future eminence, and his vocation was that of a farmer,
till be was more than forty years of age,
though he was commissioned as a magistrate, and elected a representative
in the state legislature. In the year 1776, he sustained the
office of lieutenant-colonel of militia, and having espoused
the cause of his country as a firm and determined whig, he was
elected a member of the Provincial Congress, and one of the secretaries
of that body, and also a member of the committee of correspondence.
In 1776 he was appointed by the council of Massachusetts a brigadier,
and soon after a major-general, and he applied himself assiduously
to training and preparing the militia for actual service in the
field, in which he dislayed the military talent which he possessed.
In October, he marched with a body of militia, and joined the
main army at New York. The commander-in-chief, from a knowledge
of his character and merit, recommended him to Congress as an
excellent officer, and in February, 1777, be was by that honorable
body created a major-general on the continental establishment.
For several months he commanded a division, or detachments in
the main army, under Washington, and was in situations which
required the exercise of the utmost vigilance and caution, as
well as firmness and courage. Having the command of about five
hundred men in an exposed situation near Bound Brook, through
the neglect of his patroles, a large body of the enemy approached
within two hundred yards of his quarters undiscovered; the general
had scarcely time to mount and leave the house before it was
surrounded. He led off his troops, however, in the face of the
enemy, and made good his retreat, though with the loss of about
sixty men, killed and wounded. One of his aids with the general's
baggage and papers fell into the hands of the enemy, as did
also three small pieces of artillery. In July, 1777, General
Washington selected him to join the northern army, under the
command of General Gates, to oppose the advance of General Burgoyne.
He took his station at Manchester, in Vermont, to receive and
form the New England militia, as they arrived, and to order their
march to the rear of the British army. He detached Colonel Brown
with five hundred men on the 13th of September to the landing
at Lake George, where he succeeded in surprising the enemy, and
took possession of two hundred batteaux, liberated one hundred
American prisoners, and captured two hundred and ninety-three
of the enemy, with the loss of only three killed and five wounded.
This enterprise was of the highest importance, and contributed
essentially to the glorious event which followed. Having detached
two other parties to the enemy's posts at Mount Independence
and Skenesborough, General Lincoln united his remaining force
with the army under General Gates, and was the second in command.
During the sanguinary conflict on the 7th of October, General
Lincoln commanded within our lines, and at one o'clock the next
morning be marched with his division to relieve the troops that
had been engaged, and to occupy the battle-ground, the enemy
having retreated. While on this duty he had occasion to ride
forward some distance, to reconnoitre, and to order some disposition
of his own troops, when a party of the enemy made an unexpected
movement, and he approached within musket-shot before he was
aware of his mistake. A whole volley of musketry was instantly
discharged at him and his aids, and he received a wound by which
bones of his leg were badly fractured, and be was obliged to be carried off the field. The wound was a formidable one, and the loss of his limb was for some time apprehended. He was for several months confined at Albany, and it became necessary to remove a considerable portion of the main bone before be was conveyed to his house at Hingham; and under this painful surgical operation, the writer of this being present, witnessed in him a degree of firmness and patience not to be exceeded. I have known him, says Colonel Rice, who was a member of his military family, during the most painful operation by the surgeon, while bystanders were frequently obliged to leave the room, entertain us with some pleasant anecdote, or story, and draw forth a smile from his friends. His wound continued several years in an ulcerated state, and by the loss of the bone the limb was shortened, which occasioned lameness during the remainder of his life. General Lincoln certainly afforded very important assistance in the capture of Burgoyne, though it was his unfortunate lot, while in
active duty, to be disabled before he could participate in the capitulation. Though his recovery was not complete, he repaired to head-quarters in the following August, and was joyfully received by the commander-in-chief, who well knew how to appreciate his merit. It was from a development of his estimable character as a man, and his talent as a military commander, that he was designated by Congress for the arduous duties of the chief command in the southern department, under innumerable embarrassments. On his arrival at Charleston, December, 1778, he found that he had to form an army, to provide supplies, and to arrange the various departments, that he might be able to cope with an enemy consisting of experienced officers and veteran troops. This, it is obvious, required a man of superior powers, indefatigable perseverance, and unconquerable energy. Had not these been his inherent qualities, Lincoln must have yielded to the formidable obstacles which opposed his progress. About the 28th of December, General Prevost arrived with a fleet and about three thousand British troops, and took possession of Savannah, after routing a small party of Americans, under General Robert Howe. General Lincoln immediately put his troops in motion, and took post on the eastern side of the river, about twenty miles from the city; but he was not in force to commence offensive operations till the last of February.
In April, with the view of covering the upper part of Georgia, he marched to Augusta; after which Prevost, the British commander , crossed the river into Carolina, and marched for Charleston. General Lincoln, therefore, recrossed the Savannah, and followed his route, and on his arrival near the city, the enemy had retired from before it during the previous night. A detachment of the enemy, supposed to be about six hundred men, under Lieutenant Colonel Maitland, being posted at Stone-Ferry, where they had erected works for their defence, General Lincoln resolved to attack them, which be did on the 19th of June. The contest lasted one hour and twenty minutes, in which he lost one hundred and sixty men killed and wounded, and the enemy suffered about an equal loss. Their works were found to be much stronger than bad been represented, and our artillery proving too light to annoy them, and the enemy receiving a reinforcement, our troops were obliged to retire.
The next event of importance which occurred with our general was the bold assault on Savannah, in conjunction with the Count D'Estaing. General Prevost had again possessed himself of that city, and Count D'Estaing arrived with his fleet and armament in the beginning of September, 1779. Having landed nearly three thousand French troops, General Lincoln immediately united about one thousand men to his force. The prospect of success was highly flattering, but the enemy exerted all their efforts in strengthening their lines, and after the count had summoned the garrison, and while Prevost was about to arrange articles of capitulation, be received a reinforcement. It was now resolved to attempt the place by a regular siege, but various causes occasioned a delay of several days, and when it commenced, the cannonade and bombardment failed of producing the desired effect, and the short time allowed the count on our coast, was quite insufficient for reducing the garrison by regular approaches. The commanders concluded, therefore, to make an effort on the works by assault. On the 9th of October, in the morning, the. troops were led on by D'Estaing and Lincoln, united, while a column led by Count Dillon missed their route in the darkness, and failed of the intended cooperation. Amidst a most appalling fire of the covered enemy, the allied troops forced the abatis, and planted two standards on the parapets. But being overpowered at the point of attack, they were compelled to retire; the French having seven hundred, the Americans two hundred and forty killed and wounded. The Count Pulaski, at the head of a body of our horse, was mortally wounded. General Lincoln next repaired to Charleston, and endeavored to put that city in a posture of defence, urgently requesting of Congress a reinforcement of regular troops, and additional supplies, which were but partially complied with. In February, 1780, General Sir Henry Clinton arrived, and landed a formidable force in the vicinity; and on the 10th of March encamped in front of the American lines at Charleston. Considering the vast superiority of the enemy, both in sea and land forces, it might be questioned whether prudence and correct judgment would dictate an attempt to defend the city; it will not be supposed, however, that the determination was formed without the most mature deliberation, and for reasons perfectly justifiable. It is well known that the general was in continual expectation of an augmentation of strength by reinforcements. On the 10th of April, the enemy having made some advances, summoned the garrison to an unconditional surrender, which was promptly refused. A heavy and incessant cannonade was sustained on each side, till the 11th of May, when the besiegers had completed their third parallel line, and having made a second demand of surrender, a capitulation was agreed on.
"Having received," says the general,
"an address from the principal inhabitants, and from a number
of the country militia, desiring that I would accept the terms;
and a request from the lieutenant-governor and council, that
the negotiation might be renewed; the militia of the town
having thrown down their arms; our provisions, saving a little rice, being exhausted; the troops on the line being worn down by fatigue, having for a number of days been obliged to lay on the banquette; our harbor closely blocked up; completely invested by land by nine thousand men at least, the flower of the British army, besides the large force they could at all times draw from the marine, and aided by a great number of blacks in their laborious employments; the garrison at this time, exclusive of sailors, but little exceeding two thousand five hundred men, part of whom had thrown down their arms; the citizens in general discontented, the enemy being within twenty yards of our lines, and preparing to make a general assault by sea and land; many of our cannon dismounted, and others silenced for want of shot; a retreat being judged impracticable, and every hope of timely succor cut off, we were induced to offer and accede to the terms executed on the 12th of May." It is to be lamented that, with all the judicious and vigorous efforts in his power, General Lincoln was requited only by the frowns of fortune, whereas had he been successful in his bold enterprise and views, he would have been crowned with unfading laurels. But notwithstanding a series of disappointments and unfortunate occurrences, he was censured by no one, nor was his judgment or merit called in question. He retained his popularity, and the confidence of the army, and was considered as a most zealous patriot, and the bravest of soldiers. "The motives and feelings that prompted General Lincoln rather to risk a siege than to evacuate Charleston were most honorable, to him as a man and a soldier. There was such a balance of reasons on the question, as under the existing circumstances should exempt his decision from blame or distrust. He could not calculate on the despondence and inactivity of the people who should come to his succor. The suspense and anxiety, the toil and hazard attending the siege, gave the fullest scope to his wisdom, patience and valor. His exertions were incessant. He was on the lines night and day, and for the last fortnight never undressed to sleep (Notice of General Lincoln in the Collection of the Historical Society, Vol. 3d, second series, from which I have made other extracts.) Notwithstanding this unfortunate termination of his command, so established was the spotless reputation of the vanquished general, that he continued to enjoy the undiminished respect and confidence of the Congress, the army, and the commander-in-chief (Lee's Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department.) "Great praise is due to General Lincoln," says Dr. Ramsay, "for his judicious and spirited conduct in baffling for three months the greatly superior force of Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arburthnot. Though Charleston and the Southern army were lost, yet, by their long-protracted defence, the British plans were not only retarded but deranged, and North Carolina was saved for the remainder of the year 1780."
General Lincoln was admitted to his parole, and in November following be was exchanged for Major-General Phillips, a prisoner of the convention of Saratoga. In the campaign of 1781, General Lincoln commanded a division under Washington, and at the siege of Yorktown he had his full share of the honor of that brilliant and auspicious event. The articles of capitulation stipulated for the same honor in favor of the surrendering army, as had been granted to the garrison of Charleston. General Lincoln was appointed to conduct them to the field where their arms were deposited, and received the customary submission. In the general order of the commander-in-chief the day after the capitulation, General Lincoln was among the general officers whose services were particularly mentioned. In October, 1781, he was chosen by Congress secretary at war, retaining his rank in the army. In this office he continued till October, 1783, when his proffered resignation was accepted by Congress as follows:
"Resolved, That the resignation of Major-General Lincoln, as secretary of war for the United States, be accepted in consideration of the earnest desire which he expresses, the objects of the war being so happily accomplished, to retire to private life, and that he be informed that the United States in Congress assembled entertain a high sense of his perseverance, fortitude, activity and meritorious services in the field, as well as of his diligence, fidelity and capacity in the execution of the office of secretary at war, which important trust he has discharged to their entire approbation."
Having relinquished the duties and cares of a public employment, he retired, and devoted his attention to his farm; but in 1784, he was chosen one of the commissioners and agents on the part of the state to make and execute a treaty with the Penobscot Indians. When in the year 1786-7, the authority of our state government was in a manner prostrated, and the country alarmed by a most audacious spirit of insurrection, under the guidance of Shays and Day, General Lincoln was appointed by the governor and council to command a detachment of militia, consisting of four or five thousand men, to oppose their progress, and compel them to a submission to the laws. He marched from Boston on the 20th of January, into the counties of Worcester, Hampshire, and Berkshire, where the insurgents had erected their standard. They were embodied in considerable force, and manifested a determined resistance, and a slight skirmish ensued between them and a party of militia under General Shepherd. Lincoln, however, conducted with such address and energy, that the insurgents were routed from one town to another, till they were completely dispersed in all directions; and by his wise and prudent measures the insurrection was happily suppressed without bloodshed, excepting a few individuals who were slain under General Shepherd's command. At the May election, 1787, General Lincoln was elected lieutenant-governor by the legislature, having had a plurality of votes by the people. He was a member of the convention for ratifying the federal constitution, and in the summer of 1789, he received from President Washington the appointment of collector of the port of Boston, which office he sustained till, being admonished by the increasing infirmities of age, he requested permission to resign, about two years before his death. In 1789, he was appointed one of the commissioners to treat with the Creek Indians on the frontiers of the Southern states, and in 1793 he was one of the commissioners to effect a peace with the Western Indians. The subject of this memoir received from the University of Cambridge the honorary degree of Master of Arts. He was one of the first members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and he contributed by his pen to the stock of useful materials for their respective publications. Having, after his resignation of the office of collector, passed about two years in retirement and in tranquillity of mind, but experiencing the feebleness of age, he received a short attack of disease, by which his honorable life was terminated on the 9th of May, 1810, aged 77 years. The following tribute is on the records of the society of Cincinnati:
"At the annual meeting in July, 1810, Major-General John Brooks was chosen president of the society, to supply the place of our venerable and much-lamented president, General Benjamin Lincoln, who had presided over the society from the organization thereof, in 1783, to the 9th of May, 1810, the day of his decease, with the entire approbation of every member, and the grateful tribute of his surviving comrades, for his happy guidance and affectionate attentions during so long a period."
General Lincoln in his very nature was unsusceptible of the spirit of envy. Whoever achieved a noble action to the honor and advantage of his country, whether as a patriot or soldier, was with him the man of merit and the theme of eulogy, though it might eclipse his own fame. He was universally respected as one of the best of men, of ardent patriotism, and of heroic courage. Major-General Knox, whose candor and discriminating judgment no one will deny, was known to estimate next to Washington in military talents, Generals Greene and Lincoln. Colonel Nathan Rice, a respectable officer, who was a member of his military family, observes, that the sacrifice of as much domestic happiness as falls to the lot of men, to serve his country, would seem to place his patriotism beyond suspicion. The firmness and zeal with which he rendered this service during her struggle, the coolness with which he met danger, his fortitude under bodily pain, privation and disappointments, and the confidence reposed in him by the commander-in-chief, all strongly evince that his country had not misjudged in elevating him to the distinguished rank he held in the army. While at Purysburgh, on the Savannah river, a soldier named Fickling, having been detected in frequent attempts to desert, was tried and sentenced to be hanged. The general ordered the execution. The rope broke; a second was procured, which broke also; the case was reported to the general for directions. "Let him run," said the general, "I thougbt he looked like a scape-gallows."
Major Garden, in his Anecdotes of the American Revolution, relates this story with some addition. It happened that as Fickling was led to execution, the surgeon-general of the army passed accidentally on his way to his quarters, which were at some distance. When the Second rope was procured, the adjutant of the regiment, a stout and heavy man, assayed by every means to break it, but without effect. Fickling was then haltered and again turned off, when, to the astonishment of the bystanders, the rope untwisted, and he fell a second time uninjured to the ground. A cry for mercy was now general throughout the ranks, which occasioned Major Ladson, aid-de-camp to General Lincoln, to gallop to head-quarters to make a representation of facts, which were no sooner stated than an immediate pardon was granted, accompanied with an order that he should instantaneously be drummed, with every mark of infamy, out of camp, and threatened with instant death if he ever should be found attempting to approach it. In the interim, the surgeon-general had established himself at his quarters in a distant barn, little doubting but that the catastrophe was at an end, and Fickling quietly resting in his grave. Midnight was at hand, and he was busily engaged in writing, when, hearing the approach of a footstep, he raised his eyes, and saw with astonishment the figure of the man who had in his opinion been executed, slowly and with haggard countenance approaching towards him. "How! how is this?" exclaimed the doctor; "whence come you? what do you want with me? were you not hanged this morning." "Yes, sir," replied the resuscitated man; "I am the wretch you saw going to the gallows, and who was hanged." "Keep your distance," said the doctor; "approach me not till you say why you come here." "Simply, sir," said the supposed spectre, "to solicit food. I am no ghost, doctor. The rope broke twice while the executioner was doing his office, and the general thought proper to pardon me." "If that be the case," rejoined the doctor, "eat and be welcome; but I beg of you in future to have a little more consideration, and not intrude so unceremoniously into the apartment of one who had every right to suppose you an inhabitant of the tomb''
Regularity both in business and his mode of living were peculiar traits in his character; habitually temperate, and accustomed to sleep unconfined to time or place. In conversation he was always correct and chaste; on no occasion uttering any thing like profanity or levity on serious subjects, and when others have indulged in these respects in his presence, it was ever received by him with such marked disapprobation of countenance, as to draw from them an instantaneous apology, and regret for the offence. Having, while collector, appointed a violent party-man to a place of profit merely from motives of benevolence, he had frequently, with many others, abused the general, calling him "a damned old rascal." On the first opportunity, the general said to him, "So Mr. ******, you say I am a damned old rascal; you might have spared the damned," without adding a word more; but it was expressed in a manner that prevented a reply; nor did he remove him from office. In the various characters of parent, husband and master, I ever held him up, says Colonel Rice, as a model of perfection. The law of kindness ever dwelt on his tongue.
This memoir will be concluded by some brief extracts from the Historical Collections:
"In General Lincoln's character, strength and softness, the estimable and amiable qualities, were happily blended. His mind was quick and active, yet discriminating and sound. He displayed a fund of thought and information, derived from select though limited reading, from careful observation of men and things, from habits of thinking, and from conversation. A degree of enthusiasm or exultation of feeling on the objects of his pursuit belonged to his temperament, but it was under the control of good sense and sober views. He was patient and cool in deliberation; in execution, prompt and vigorous. He was conspicuous for plain, strict, inflexible integrity, united, however, with prudence, candor, and a compassionate disposition. As a military commander, he was judicious, brave, determined, indefatigable. His distinguished merit in this character was never denied, while all have not agreed in opinion on some of his plans in the southern command. Being a soldier of the revolution, he had to anticipate the effect of experience, and might commit mistakes. He was surrounded by difficulties; he met extraordinary disappointments in his calculations of supplies and succors. In the principal instances which issued unfortunately, the storming of Savannah and the siege of Charleston, he had but a choice of evils; and whichever way he decided, the course rejected would have seemed to many persons more eligible. General Lincoln was a federalist of the Washington school. He experienced the benefit of his weight of character and the sense entertained by the community of his public services, in being suffered to retain his office of collector.
"Religion exerted its full influence over the mind and conduct of General Lincoln. He was a Christian of the Anti-sectarian, Catholic, or liberal sect. He was firm in his faith, serious and affectionate in his piety, without superstition, fanaticism or austerity. He was from early manhood a communicant, and for a great part of his life a deacon of the church. He never shunned an avowal of his belief, nor feared to appear what he was, nor permitted the reality of his convictions to remain in doubt. The person and air of General Lincoln betokened his military vocation. He was of middle height and erect, broad-chested and muscular, in his latter years corpulent, with open intelligent features, a venerable and benign aspect. His manners were easy and unaffected, but courteous and polite."
In all his transactions, both public and private, his mind was elevated above all sordid or sinister views, and our history will not perhaps record many names more estimable than was that of General Lincoln.
THIS highly distinguished personage was a Prussian officer, aid-de-camp to the great Frederick, and held the rank of lieutenant-general in the army of that consummate commander. He arrived in America December, 1777, and presented himself with his credentials to Congress, proffering his services in our army without any claim to rank, and requested permission only to render such assistance as might be in his power, in the character of a volunteer. In thus devoting himself to our cause, be made an immense sacrifice, by relinquishing his honorable station and emoluments in Europe. Congress voted him their thanks, for his zeal and the disinterested tender of his services, and he joined the main army under General Washington at Valley Forge. His qualifications for a teacher of the system of military tactics were soon manifested; having for many years practised on the system which the king of Prussia had introduced into his own army. In May, 1778, by the strong recommendation of the commander-in-chief, Congress appointed him inspector-general with the rank of major-general. He commenced his duties as inspector, beginning with the officers, who were formed into separate bodies, frequently exercised and instructed in the various movements and evolutions, when manoeuvring battalions, brigades, or divisions of the army. He exerted all his powers for the establishment of a regular system of discipline, economy, and uniformity among our heterogeneous bodies of soldiers. In the discharge of this duty, and to effect his favorite object, he encountered obstacles to which a less zealous spirit would have yielded as insurmountable. By his superior talents, indefatigable industry, and perseverance, he rendered a service to our army, without which it could not have attained to a condition capable of achieving honor and glory in the face of European veteran troops.. Charmed with the neat and soldierly appearance of those who had profited by his instructions and duly improved in the art of discipline, and equally detesting the soldier whose awkward and unmilitary conduct betrayed his negligence, there never was a review but the baron rewarded the one with more than praise, and censured the other, whether officer or soldier, with a severity equal to his deserts. While reviewing our regiment, he noticed in the ranks a very spruce young lad, handsomely formed, standing erect, with the air of a genteel soldier, his gun and equipments in perfect order. The baron, struck with his military appearance, patted him under his chin to elevate his head still more erect, viewed him with a smile, and said, "How long have you been a soldier? You are one pretty soldier in miniature. . How old are you?" "Seventeen, sir." "Have you got a wife?" Then calling to the colonel, said, "Colonel Jackson, this is one fine soldier in miniature."
The baron composed a complete system of exercise and discipline, which was approved by the commander-in-chief, and ordered by Congress to be published and adopted in our army. Colonel William North and Colonel Walker were aids-de-camp and members of his family, between whom there existed a mutual attachment and affection, pure as parent and sons.
Colonel North at an early age volunteered his services in the bold and perilous enterprise undertaken by General Arnold in the autumn of 1775, to penetrate to Canada through the unexplored wilderness from Kennebec, and was among the miserable sufferers who apprehended the horrors of death in the wilderness. When Colonel Henry Jackson raised his regiment in the state of Massachusetts, this gentleman was commissioned as commander of a company in this regiment, in which he served with honor till he was appointed aid-de-camp to Baron Steuben. By the amiable qualities of his heart, his ingratiating and gentlemanly manners, he won the affection of the baron, by whom he was treated with the favor of an adopted son. After the close of the war he was appointed major-general of militia in the state of New York, and he has recently transferred his residence to New London, in Connecticut. It is chiefly by the aid of his pen that I am enabled to furnish this tribute to the memory of his justly-celebrated patron.
The baron was distinguished for his adherence to the principles of political integrity and moral virtue. His heart was replete with generous sentiments and the purest benevolence.
After General Arnold treacherously deserted his post at West Point, the baron never failed to manifest his indignation and abhorrence of his name and character, and while inspecting Colonel Sheldon's regiment of light-horse, the name of Arnold struck his ear. The soldier was ordered to the front: he was a fine looking fellow; his horse and equipments in excellent order. "Change your name, brother-soldier; you are too respectable to bear the name of a traitor." "What name shall I take, general?" "Take any other name; mine is at your service."' Most cheerfully was the offer accepted, and his name was entered on the roll as Steuben. He or his children now enjoy land given to him in the town of Steuben by the baron. This brave soldier met him after the war. "I am well settled, general," said he, "and have a wife and son; I have called my son after you, sir." "I thank you, my friend. What name have you given the boy?" "I called him Baron what else could I call him?"
The baron's office as inspector did not preclude him the privilege of command in the line according to his rank, and at one period he was commander of a separate detachment in Virginia, to oppose the ravages of the enemy in that quarter. It was with great difficulty that men could be procured for the service; every man was considered as an acquisition. The baron was too honest to suffer, an imposition to be practised on the public. A regiment had been collected, and was paraded on the point of marching, when a well-looking man on horseback, and as it appeared his servant on another, rode up and informed the baron that be had brought him a recruit. "I thank you, sir," said the baron, "with all my heart; you have arrived in a happy moment. Where is your man, colonel?" - for he was colonel in the militia. "Here, sir" ordering his boy to dismount. The baron's countenance changed; his aids saw and feared the approaching storm. A sergeant was ordered to measure the lad, whose shoes when off discovered something by which his stature had been increased. The baron, patting the child's head with his hand, trembling with rage, asked him how old he was? He was very young - quite a child. "'Sir," said he to the militia colonel, "you must have supposed me to be a rascal." "Oh! no, baron, I did not," "Then, sir, I suppose you to be a rascal, an infamous rascal, thus to attempt to cheat your country. Sergeant, take off this fellow's spurs, and place him in the ranks, that we may have a man able to serve, instead of an infant whom he would basely have made his substitute! Go, my boy; take the colonel's spurs and horse to his wife; make my compliments, and say, her husband has gone to fight for the freedom of his country, as an honest man should do!" And instantly ordered, "Platoons! to the right, wheel! forward march!" Colonel Gaskins, who commanded the regiment, fearing the consequences, after marching some distance, allowed the man to escape, who immediately made application to the civil authority for redress; but Governor Jefferson, Mr. Madison, and others, not doubting the purity of the baron's motive, and fully appreciating his honest zeal, prevented any disagreeable results attending this high-handed exertion of military power. At the siege of Yorktown the baron was in the trenches at the head of his division, and received the first overture of Lord Cornwallis to capitulate. At the relieving hour next morning, the Marquis de Ia Fayette approached at the head of his division, to relieve him. The baron refused to quit the trenches, assigning as a reason the etiquette in Europe, that the offer to capitulate had been made during his tour of duty, and that it was a point of honor of which he would not deprive his troops to remain in the trenches till the capitulation was signed or hostilities recommenced. The dispute was referred to the commander-in-chief, and the baron was permitted to remain till the British flag was struck. While on this duty the baron, perceiving himself in danger from a shell thrown from the enemy, threw himself suddenly into the trench; General Wayne, in the jeopardy and hurry of themoment, fell on him; the baron, turning his eyes, saw it was his brigadier. "I always knew you were brave, general," said he; "but I did not know you were so perfect in every point of duty: you cover your general's retreat in the best manner possible.
"I have great delight," says Major Garden, "in relating an anecdote which I received from General Walter Stewart; the truth of which may be relied on." After the capture of Yorktown, the superior officers of the allied army vied with each other in acts of civility and attention to the captive Britons. Lord Cornwallis and his family were particularly distinguished. Entertainments were given in succession by all the major-generals, with the exception of Baron Steuben. He alone withheld an invitation, not from a wish to be particular, nor that his heart was closed to the attentions due to misfortunes. His soul was superior to prejudice; and, as a soldier, he tenderly sympathized in their fate, while poverty denied the means of displaying that liberality towards them which had been shown by others. Such was his situation when, calling on Colonel Stewart, and informing him of his intention to entertain the British commander-in-chief, he requested that he would advance him a sum of money as the price of his favorite charger. "'Tis a good beast," said the baron, " and has proved a faithful servant through all the dangers of the war; but, though painful to my heart, we must part." Colonel Stewart, to prevent a step that he knew must be attended with great loss, and still greater inconvenience, immediately tendered his purse, recommending, should the sum it contained prove insufficient, the sale or pledge of his watch. "My dear friend," said the baron, "tis already sold. Poor North was sick and wanted necessaries. He is a brave fellow, and possesses the best of hearts. The trifle it brought is set apart for his use. My horse must go; so no more, I beseech you, to turn me from my purpose. I am a major-general in the service of the United States, and my private convenience must not be put in the scale with the duty which my rank calls on me imperiously to perform." A very friendly intercourse subsisted between the officers of the French army and those of our own, and dining invitations could not always be reciprocated on our part for want of the means "I can stand it no longer," said the baron; "we are continually dining with these gentlemen,and such is our penury that, except at head-quarters, they receive return no invitations in return. "Take," said he to one of his people, "take the silver spoons and forks and sell them; it is not republican to eat with silver forks and it is the part of a gentleman to pay his debts. They shall have one good dinner, if I eat my soup with a wooden spoon for ever after."
The baron returned to the northward, and remained with the army, continually employed till the peace in perfecting his discipline. The adroitness, and, above all, the silence with which his manoeuvres were performed, was remarked with astonishment by the officers of the French army. The Marquis de la Val de Montmorency, a brigadier-general, said to the baron, "I admire the celerity and exactitude with which your men perform, but what I cannot conceive is the profound silence with which they manoeuvre." "I don't know, Monsieur le Marquis, whence noise should proceed, when even my brigadiers dare not open their months but to repeat the orders."
The French troops were exceedingly loud in their evolutions and marches, and Mons. la Val at all times louder than the rest. On a subsequent occasion, designed to show the high degree of expertness at which our officers and soldiers had arrived, the ~ baron was asked by one of the French generals what manoeuvres he intended to perform. On being informed, "Yes," replied the French chief, "I have seen particularly the last you mention performed by the Prussians in Silesia, but with a very complex addition," which he explained. "But you will recollect, general, that we are not quite Prussians." After his guests had retired, the baron said, "I will let these Frenchmen know that we can do what the Prussians can, and what their army cannot do. I will save those gentlemen who have not been in Silesia the trouble of going there; they may come to Verplank's Point next week for instruction." They came, chiefs and subalterns, and every thing was done in the finest style, to their real or pretended admiration. Here General North indulges his honorable feelings in the following apostrophe: "Alas! when I think of time past, of that day, and look to that eminence on which General Washington's marquee was pitched, in front of which stood that great man, firm in the consciousness of virtue, surrounded by French nobles and the chiefs of his own army; when I cast my eyes, then lighted up with soldierly ambition, hope and joy, along that lengthened line, my brothers all! endeared by ties made strong by full communion in many a miserable, many a joyous hour, my heart sinks at the view! Who, how few of all that brilliant host, is left; these few are tottering on the, cofines of the grave! The baron's tent that day was filled, and more than filled, with Frenchmen. 'I am glad,' said he, 'to pay some part of the dinner debt we owe our allies.'" "On the eve of returning to the northward from Virginia," continues General North, "I was sick, and unable to accompany the baron: he divided his purse with me, the whole contents of which were two half-joes; his watch and silver spoons and forks, brought from Germany, were already disposed of. "I must, go,' said the baron; 'I must leave you, my son; but I leave you among a people where we have found the door of every every house wide open; where the heart of every female is full of tenderness and virtue. Quit this deleterious spot, the instant you are able; there is my sulkey, and here is half of what I have. God bless you! I can no more.' Nor could he: the feelings of friends in such a moment, and under such circumstances, may possibly be conceived, but not expressed. A journey of three hundred miles was before him; a single piece of gold in his purse. Are other instances necessary to unfold the texture of his heart? - how many have I written on my own! There is, I trust, a book in which they, every one of them, are entered, to the credit of his account with Heaven."
General Washington had a high esteem for the baron, and was fully sensible of his worth and merits. On all proper occasions Congress were urged in his behalf, and from time to time he received of money, good and bad, sums which some narrow-minded men thought much too large, though he proved satisfactorily that he had given up a salary of five hundred and eighty guineas a year in Europe. But what sums - how much - could have been enough for one who searched around for worthy, objects, whose wants might be relieved? "Never did a review or an inspection pass without rewards in money to soldiers whose arms were in the highest order. Never was his table unfilled with guests if furnished with provisions. Officers of rank, men most prominent for knowledge and attention to their duty, were marked for invitation; but the gentlemen of his family were desired to complete the list with others of inferior grade. 'Poor fellows,' said he, 'they have field officers' stomachs, without their rations."'
The baron was rough as the ocean in a storm when great faults were committed; but if, in a sudden gust of passion, he had injured, the redress was ample. I recollect that at a review near Morristown, a Lieutenant Gibbons, a brave and good officer, was arrested on the spot, and ordered into the rear, for a fault which it afterwards appeared another had committed. At a proper moment, the commander of the regiment came forward, and informed the baron of Mr. Gibbons' innocence, of his worth, and of his acute feelings under this unmerited disgrace. "Desire Lieutenant Gibbons to come to the front, colonel." "Sir," said the baron, to the young gentleman, "the fault which was made, by throwing the line into confusion, might, in the presence of an enemy, have been fatal. I arrested you as its supposed author, but I have reason to believe that I was mistaken, and that in this instance you were blameless; I ask your pardon: return to your command; I would not deal unjustly by any, much less by one whose character as an officer is so respectable." All this passed with the baron's hat off, the rain pouring on his venerable head! - Do you think there was an officer, a soldier who saw it, unmoved by affection and respect? Not one.
In the company of ladies, the baron always appeared to peculiar advantage. At the house of the respectable Mrs. Livingston, mother of the late Chancellor, where virtue, talent, and modest worth of every kind met a welcome reception, the baron was introduced to a Miss Sheaf, an amiable and interesting young lady. "I am very happy," said he, "in the honor of being presented to you, mademoiselle, though I see it is at an infinite risk; I have from my youth been cautioned to guard myself against mischief, but I had no idea that her attractions were so powerful."
Dining at head-quarters with Robert Morris, Esq., and other gentlemen, Mr. Morris complained bitterly of the miserable state of the treasury. "Why," said the baron, "are you not financier? - why do you not continue to create funds?" "I have done all I can; it is not possible for me to do more.," "But you remain financier, though without finances?" " Yes." "Well, then, I do not-think you are so honest a man as my cook. He came to me one day at Valley Forge, and said "Baron, I am your cook, and you have nothing to cook but a piece of lean beef, which is hung up by a string before the fire. Your negro wagoner can turn the string and do as well as I can. You have promised me ten dollars a month; but as you have nothing to cook, I wish to be discharged, and not longer be chargeable to you, 'That is an honest fellow, Morris."
Though never perfectly master of our language, the baron understood and spoke it with sufficient correctness. He would sometimes on purpose miscall names, and blend or adopt words similar in sound, dissimilar in meaning. Dining, at head-quarters, which he did frequently, Mrs. Washington asked what amusement he had recourse to now that the certainty of peace had relaxed his labors? "I read, my lady, and write, and chess, and yesterday for the first time I went a fishing. My gentlemen told me it was a very fine business to catch fish , and I did not know but that this new trade might, by and by, be useful to me - but I fear I never can succeed - I sat, in the boat three hours, it was exceedingly warm, and I caught only two fish; they told me it was fine sport." " What kind of fish did you take, baron?" "I am not sure, my lady, but I believe one of them was a whale." "A whale, baron, in the North river!" "Yes, I assure you, a very fine whale, my lady - it was a whale, was it not?" appealing to one of his aids. "An eel, baron." "I beg your pardon,, my, lady, but that gentleman certainly told me it was a whale." General Washington, now that his mind was comparatively at ease, enjoyed a pleasantry of this kind highly.
For the proper understanding of the following bon mot of General Washington, it must he mentioned that at Tatawa falls there was a miserable, deformed object who had lain in his cradle for twenty-seven years. His head was eighteen inches in length, and the rest of his body twenty-seven inches. He received numerous visitors, among whom was his excellency, who asked him whether he was a Whig or tory? He answered, as he had been taught, that he had never taken an active part on either side. "A worthy gentleman and lady came out of New York after the preliminaries of peace were signed, to visit their friends, and resided in the neighborhood of Baron Steuben by whom the whole party, together with his excellency and lady, were invited to dine. 'It is proper,' said the baron, 'that your excellency should be apprised that Mr.******and his lady from New York are to dine with me, and perhaps, sir, you may not choose to meet Mr. ******.' 'Oh, baron,' said the general, laughing, 'there is no difficulty on that point. Mr. ****** is very like the big-headed boy at Tatawa, he never has taken an active part.' This was allowed to be a most adroit coup de sabre by those who knew the gentleman, though it is doubted whether, if he had heard it, he would have felt the stroke."
"At the disbandment of the revolutionary army, when inmates of the same tent, or hut, for seven long years, were separating, and probably for ever; grasping each other's hand, in silent agony, I saw the baron's strong endeavors to throw some ray of sunshine on the gloom to mix some drop of cordial with the painful draught. To go, they knew not whither; all recollection of the art to thrive by civil occupations lost, or to the youthful never known. Their hard earned military knowledge worse than useless, and with their badge of brotherhood, a mark at which to point the finger of suspicion - ignoble, vile suspicion! - to be cast out on a world, long since by them forgotten. Severed from friends, and all the joys and griefs which soldiers feel! Griefs while hope remained - when shared by numbers, almost joys! To go in silence and alone, and poor and hopeless; it was too hard! On that sad day, how many hearts were wrung! I saw it all, nor will the scene be ever blurred or blotted from my view. To a stern old officer, a Lieutenant- Colonel Cochran, from the Green Mountains, who had met danger and difficulty almost in every step from his youth, and from whose furrowed visage a tear till that moment had never fallen; the good baron said - what could be said to lessen deep distress. 'For myself' said Cochran, 'I care not - I can stand it; but my wife and daughters are in the garret of that wretched tavern. I know not where to remove, nor have I means for their removal!' 'Come, my friend,' said the baron, 'let us go - I will pay my respects to Mrs. Cochran and your daughters, if you please.' I followed to the loft, the lower rooms being all filled with soldiers, with drunkenness, despair and blasphemy. And when the baron left the poor unhappy cast-aways, he left hope with them, , and all he had to give." "A black man, with wounds unhealed, wept on the wharf (for it was at Newburgh where this tragedy was acting): there was a vessel in the stream, bound to the place where he once had friends. He had not a dollar to pay his passage, and he could not walk. Unused to tears, I saw them trickle down this good man's cheeks as he put into the hands of the black man the last doIlar, he possessed. The negro hailed the sloop, and cried, 'God Almighty bless you, master baron!'
"What good and honorable man, civil or military, before the accursed party-spirit murdered friendships, did not respect and love the baron? Who most? Those who knew him best. After the peace, the baron retired to a farm in the vicinity of New York, where, with forming a system for the organization and discipline of the militia, books, chess, and the frequent visits of his numerous friends, he passed his time as agreeably as a frequent want of funds would permit. The state of New Jersey had given him a small improved farm, and the state of New York gave him a tract of sixteen thousand acres of land in the county of Oneida. After the general government was in full operation, by the exertions of Colonel Hamilton, patronized and enforced by President Washington, a grant of two thousand five hundred dollars per annum was made to him for life. The summers were now chiefly spent on his land, and his winters in the city. His sixteen thousand acres of land were in the uncultivated wilderness; he built a convenient log house, cleared sixty acres, parceled out his land on easy terms to twenty or thirty tenants, distributed nearly a tenth of the tract in gifts to his aids-de-camp and servants, , and sat himself down to a certain degree contented without society, except that of a young gentleman, who read to and with him. He ate only at dinner, but he ate with strong appetite. In drinking, he was always temperate; indeed, he was free from every vicious habit. His powers of mind and body were strong, and he received to a certain extent a liberal education. His days were undoubtedly shortened by his sedentary mode of life. He was seized with an apoplexy, which in a few hours was fatal. Agreeably to his desire, often expressed, he was wrapped in his cloak, placed in a plain coffin, and hid in the earth without a stone to tell where he lies. A few neighbors, his servants, the young gentleman his late companion, and one on whom for fifteen years his countenance never ceased to beam with kindness, followed to the grave. It was in a thick, a lonely wood; but, in a few years after, a public highway was opened near or over the hallowed sod! Colonel Walker snatched the poor remains of his dear friend from sacrilegious violation, and gave a bounty to protect the grave in which he laid them from rude and impious intrusion. He died in 1795, in the sixty-fifth year of his age.
"Some few years previous to the baron's death, a pious gentleman of the city of New York, who had a great affection for him, told me, with strong marks of joy, that they had passed the evening and a part of the last night together, that the baron confessed his full belief in Jesus Christ, with sure and certain hope, through him, of a blessed immortality. 'From the life our dear friend has led in camps and in the gay world,' said the good man, I feared; and you do not know what joy I feel in the belief that he will be well to all eternity!' The baron was a member of the Reformed German Church, in New York."
General North, from the impulse of his own affectionate and grateful feelings, erected a handsome monument with an appropriate inscription in the Reformed German Church in New York to the memory of his illustrious patron and friend, and these pages accord with the views of that memorial in transmitting to posterity a renowned hero, whose name and invaluable labors should never be forgotten.
What remained of the baron's estate, excepting one thousand dollars and his library, which he willed to a youth whose father had rendered essential service in the war, and whose education he generously charged himself with, was bequeathed to his two affectionate aids-de-camp.
THE name and character of this illustrious French nobleman, will occupy a conspicuous place in our revolutionary annals, and be honored by posterity, no less for his enthusiastic love of liberty than for his heroism and military renown. There is something truly romantic in the history of this celebrated personage. In the year 1776, at the immature age of nineteen, he espoused the cause of the Americans, and nobly resolved to afford our country all possible as I assistance by his personal services and influence. At this era the affairs of America Were bordering on despair, and were represented in France as so deplorable that it might be supposed sufficient to repress the most determined zeal. Reports were propagated in that country that our army, reduced to a mere rabble, Was flying before an army of thirty thousand regulars, nor was this very wide from the reality. In consequence of this, our commissioners found it impossible to procure a vessel to convey the marquis and their own despatches to Congress; they could not therefore feel justified in encouraging his bold contemplated enterprise. This embarrassment, however, had the effect of increasing rather than of restraining his youthful ardor and heroism. He imparted to the commissioners his determination to purchase and fit out a vessel to convey himself and their despatches to America. This project was deemed so extraordinary and important, that it did not fail to engage universal attention. The French court had not then declared even a friendly intention towards America, but, on the contrary, was extremely cautious of giving offence to the British government. Orders were therefore given prohibiting the departure of this nobleman, and vessels were even despatched to the West Indies to intercept him, in case he should take that route. The marquis was well apprised that he exposed himself to the loss of his fortune by the laws of France; and that, should he fall into the hands of the English on his passage, he would be liable to a confinement of uncertain duration, and without a prospect of being exchanged. These considerations however, did not deter him from the attempt; and, bidding adieu to his amiable consort and numerous endeared connexions, and trusting to good fortune to favor his elopement, he embarked, and in due time arrived safe in Charleston, in the summer of 1776. He landed soon after the noble defence made by General Moultrie at the fort on Sullivan's island. Charmed with the gallantry displayed by that general and his brave troops, the marquis presented him with clothing, arms and accoutrements for one hundred men. He met with a cordial reception from our Congress, and they immediately accepted his proffered services. He insisted that he would receive no compensation, and that he would commence his services as a volunteer. This noble philanthropist was received into the family of the commander-in-chief where a strong mutual attachment was contracted, and he has often been called the adopted son of Washington. July 31st, 1777, Congress resolved, that, "Whereas the Marquis de la Fayette, out of his great zeal to the cause of liberty in which the United States are engaged, has left his family and connexions, and at his own expense come over to offer his services to the United States without pension or particular allowance, and is anxious to risk his life in our cause - Resolved, That his service be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general in the army of the United States."
At the battle of Brandywine, September, 1777, the marquis exhibited full proof of his undaunted bravery and military character, and received a wound in his leg. In May, 1777, with a select corps of two thousand five hundred men, he crossed the Schuylkill, and took post about twelve miles in front of our army at Valley Forge. A Quaker, in whose house he was to lodge, sent information to the enemy, who formed an instantaneous design of surprising him. General Gray, on the night of the 19th of May, marched with seven thousand men, and by a skillful movement got into the marquis' rear, while another detachment was advancing to his front. The marquis fortunately gained intelligence of their approach, and, by a prompt decision effected his retreat, and recrossed the river in season to defeat the design of the enemy. Had they succeeded, it must not only have proved fatal to the marquis and his detachment, but placed the remainder of our army in a situation of extreme hazard. In August, 1778, the marquis repaired to Rhode Island, to assist in the expedition under Major-General Sullivan, in conjunction with the French fleet, and he received the particular approbation and applause of Congress for his judicious and highly important services. In January, 1779, the marquis embarked at Boston, on a voyage to France and was subjected to imminent danger from a conspiracy among the sailors, a great part of whom were British. He returned in May, 1780, bringing the joyful intelligence that a French fleet and army would soon arrive on our coast. Through his great zeal for the cause of the United 'States, he exerted his influence with his government, no longer fearful of giving offence to the English, to afford money and troops and other important succors. He was soon put at the head of a select corps of light-infantry for the service of the campaign. This afforded him a new opportunity for the display of his munificence. He presented to every officer under his command an elegant sword, and his soldiers were clothed in uniform, principally at his expense. He infused into this corps a spirit of pride and emulation, viewing it as one formed and modeled according to his own wishes, and as deserving his highest confidence. They were the pride of his heart and he the idol of their regard; constantly panting for an opportunity of accomplishing some signal achievement worthy of his and their character. This corps was pronounced equal to any that could be produced in any country. In December, 1780, he marched with one thousand two hundred light-infantry for Virginia, to counteract the devastations of Arnold and Phillips; He made a forced march of two hundred miles, and prevented General Phillips' possessing himself of Richmond, and secured the stores of that place. At one period there was not a single pair of shoes in his whole command, and such was his zeal and generous spirit, and such the confidence and respect of the people, that be was enabled to borrow of the merchants of Baltimore two thousand guineas on his own credit, with which he purchased shoes and other necessary articles for his troops. The mar quis was employed in watching the motions of Lord Cornwallis in Virginia, with an inferior force; in this arduous duty he displayed the judgment, skill, and prudence of a veteran, with the ardor of youth. In a skirmish near Jamestown, not a man in the whole detachment was more exposed, and one of his horses was killed.
Lord Cornwallis having encamped near Jamestown, the Marquis La Fayette sent General Wayne with the Pennsylvania troops to take their station within a small distance of the British army, and watch their motions. The two advanced parties were soon engaged, and General Wayne drove that of the enemy back to their lines; and, without stopping there, attacked the whole British army, drawn up in order of battle, and charged them with bayonets. The action was extremely severe for the little time it lasted, but the disproportion of numbers was so great, that the enemy was on the point of surrounding our troops, when the marquis arrived in person, just time enough to order a retreat, by which they were rescued from their hazardous situation after suffering considerable loss.
General Henry Lee, in his Memoirs of the War in the Southern States, eulogizes the character and conduct of La Fayette, when compelled to fly before the British commander, in the following language: "In this period of gloom, of disorder and of peril, La Fayette was collected and undismayed. With zeal, with courage, and with sagacity, he discharged his arduous duties; and, throughout his difficult retreat, was never brought even to array but once in order for battle. - Invigorating our councils by his precepts; dispelling our despondency by his example; and encouraging his troops to submit to their many privations, by the cheerfulness with which he participated in their wants; he imparted the energy of his own mind to the country, and infused his high-toned spirit into the army."
Great encomiums were passed on the marquis for his humanity and goodness in visiting and administering to the relief of the wounded soldiers. Lord Cornwallis having received a reinforcement, was so confident of success against his young antagonist, that he imprudently said in a letter which was intercepted, "the boy cannot escape me." He planned the surprise of the marquis while on the same side of James river with himself ; but in this he was baffled by means of a spy, whom the marquis sent into the enemy's camp to obtain some necessary intelligence. A combination of talents and skill defeated all the energies of physical power. During the siege of Lord Cornwallis at Yorktown, the marquis was among the most active and intrepid of the general officers, and he commanded a detachment of our light-infantry, which successfully assaulted the British redoubt on the right of our lines. Previous to his departure from Yorktown, he issued his last orders to his favorite corps of infantry, in which are contained the following expressions: "In the moment the major-general leaves this place, he wishes once more to express his gratitude to the brave corps of light-infantry, who for nine months past have been the companions of his fortunes. He will never forget that, with them alone, of regular troops, he had the good fortune to manoeuvre before, an army which after all its reductions is still six times superior to the regular force be had at that time."
The marquis now perceiving that the mighty contest for American independence, in which he had been so nobly engaged, was near its completion, was about to return with the well-earned laurels on his brow to his king and country. Congress resolved, November 23d, 1781, "that major-general the Marquis de la Fayette be informed that on a review of his conduct throughout the past campaign, and particularly during the period in which he had chief command in Virginia , the many new proofs which present themselves of his zealous attachment to the cause he has espoused, and of his judgment, vigilance, gallantry and address in its defence, have greatly added to the high opinion entertained by Congress of his merit and military talents."
During his military career in America, the marquis displayed that patriotism, integrity, humanity, and other virtue which characterize real greatness of soul. His manners being easy, affable and engaging, he was particularly endeared to the officers and soldiers under his command; they admired, loved, and revered him as their guide and support when in peril, and their warmest friend when in perplexity and trouble. The most affectionate attachment subsisted between him and the illustrious chief under whose banners it was his delight to serve, and whose language was " This noble unites to all the military fire of youth, an uncommon maturity of judgment."
His very soul burned with the spirit of enterprise, and he manifested a disinterestedness and devotion to the cause of freedom, ever to be admired and applauded by a grateful people. He ever discovered , both in design and execution, those traits of genius, and that intuitive knowledge of tactics, which designate the great man and the successful warrior. The people of the United States are fully apprised of their high obligations to him, and their history will transmit the name of La Fayette with grateful acknowledgments to the latest posterity. It is gratifying to learn that Congress granted him a valuable tract of land, as a compensation in part for his disinterested patriotism and important services.
When in December, 1784, the marquis was about
to take his final departure from America, Congress appointed
a committee, consisting of one member from each state, to receive
him, and in the name of Congress to take leave of him in such
manner as might strongly manifest their esteem and regard for
him. That they be instructed to assure him that Congress continue
to entertain the same high sense of his abilities and zeal to
promote the welfare of America, both here and in Europe, which
they have frequently expressed and manifested on former occasions.
That the United States regard him with particular affection,
and will not cease to feel an interest in whatever may concern
his honor and prosperity, and that their best and kindest wishes
will always attend him. Congress resolved also that a letter
be written to his Most Christian Majesty, expressive of the high
sense which the United States, in Congress assembled, entertain
of the zeal, talents, and meritorious services of the Marquis
de la Fayette, and recommending him to the favor and patronage
of his majesty. The marquis made a very respectful and affectionate
reply, in which he expressed the lively feelings of a heart devoted
to the welfare of our rising empire, and gratefully acknowledged
that, at a time when an inexperienced youth, he was favored with
his respected friend's paternal adoption. He thus concludes his
"May this immense temple of freedom ever stand as a lesson to oppressors, an example to the oppressed, a sanctuary for the rights of mankind; and may these happy United States attain that complete splendor and prosperity which will illustrate the blessings of their government, and for ages to come rejoice the departed souls of its founders. Never can Congress oblige me so much as when they put it in my power in every part of the world to the latest day of my life to gratify the attachment which will ever rank me among the most zealous and respectful servants of the United States."
MAJOR-GENERAL HORATIO GATES.
GENERAL GATES was a native of England, and was educated to the military profession. He was an officer under the unfortunate Braddock, in the expedition against Fort du Quesne, in the year 1755, and who, after receiving a dangerous wound, was, with the illustrious Washington, among the few officers who escaped with life on that memorable occasion. When the American colonies were forced to assume a hostile attitude, Gates had been for some time a resident in Virginia, and having evinced his zeal and attachment to the violated rights of his adopted country, and sustaining a high military reputation, he was by Congress appointed adjutant-general, with the rank of brigadier, and he accompanied General Washington to our camp at Cambridge, in July, 1775. On the retreat of our forces from Canada, the chief command in that department was conferred on him in June, 1776. He continued the retreat of our army from Crown Point to Ticonderoga, which did not fully accord with the views of Congress and the commander-in-chief. The British forces having retired to winter-quarters in Canada, Gates marched with a detachment of his command, and joined the main army in Jersey, in the autumn of that year. His sphere of action was not brilliant or splendid, till his mighty achievement in the capture of Burgoyne, at Saratoga; nor is he justly and exclusively entitled to the full measure of applause acquired by that most glorious victory; the magnanimous General Schuyler,* whom he superseded in command, had, by his indefatigable industry, and almost unprecedented labors, raised the most formidable impediments to the march of Burgoyne, which tended more than is generally imagined to facilitate the conquest made by the northern army.
*MAJOR-GENERAL PHILIP SCHUYLER. - It has been observed that neither history nor biography has rendered justice to this highly meritorious character. He possessed a clear understanding, a strong mind, a humane and generous disposition. No individual could have contributed more largely, by his vigilance and efficiency, to augment the obstacles to the march of the British army to Fort Edward. His name should be enrolled with the renowned band of military patriots and heroes, that posterity may know the eminent services which his splendid talents conferred on his country.
When General Gates succeeded to the command of the northern army, August, 1777, Generals Schuyler and St. Clair were suffering, though most unjustly, the public odium by the evacuation of Ticonderoga, and their successor in command was in high repute and confidence with his officers and soldiers. Burgoyne's right wing, under St. Leger had been cut off at Fort Stanwix, and his left at Bennington, by General Stark. Our army was daily increasing in numbers, and considerably exceeded the strength of the enemy, and our troops were greatly invigorated with courage, and determined on victory. Every circumstance, in fact, was auspicious to a successful issue. Burgoyne still perceived that, in proportion as he advanced, obstacles multiplied on every side. Having at length surmounted almost insuperable difficulties, he passed the Hudson, and advanced to Saratoga. Gates also advanced to Stillwater, and boldly faced his formidable foe; and on the 19th of September, a sanguinary conflict ensued. Both parties firm and unyielding, both attained the high honors of the brave, but neither bore the palm of a complete victory from the field. While Burgoyne's loss was irretrievable, the force and the ardor of his antagonist were continually augmenting. Every day's delay now increased the heavy embarrassments of Burgoyne, while time threw additional advantages into the hands of his spirited opponent; till at length it became obvious that retreat or victory was his unavoidable alternative; but, on trial, it was resolved, to his utter dismay, that neither resource was at his command. On the 7th of October, the two opposing armies rushed again to the field of slaughter, and both were satiated with blood and carnage. The British army were repulsed in every direction, and its commander was led to the painful conviction that a more disastrous fate awaited him. Burgoyne, now driven to the brink of despair - his forces disabled, his provisions exhausted, and a victorious adversary opposing him in front - resolved on a rapid retreat, but on exploring the route, behold, his adversary was there!
The dreaded crisis had now arrived, when a capitulation was alone practicable. Articles not very dishonorable to the vanquished enemy were acceded to, and General Gates enjoyed the ineffable satisfaction of receiving in submission the once-victorious chief. To the honor of General Gates, it is mentioned that the captured troops were directed to a sequestered spot to ground their arms, that their feelings might not be wounded in the presence of our army, though it deprived the latter of satisfaction in which they were justly entitled to participate. An interesting narrative of the first interview between the victor and the captured officers is thus given by Adjutant-General Wilkinson: "General Burgoyne proposed to be introduced to General Gates, and we crossed the Fishkill, and proceeded to head-quarters on horseback, General Burgoyne in front with his Adjutant-General Kingston, and his aids-de-camp, Captain Lord Petersham and Lieutenant Wilford, behind him; then followed Major-General Phillips, the Baron Reidesel, and the other general officers, and their suites according to rank. General Gates, advised of Burgoyne's approach, met him at the head of his camp - Burgoyne in a rich royal uniform, and Gates in a plain blue frock. When they approached nearly within sword's length, they reined up and halted. I then named the gentlemen, and General Burgoyne, raising his hat most gracefully, said, 'The fortune of war, General Gates, has made me your prisoner;' to which the conqueror, returning a courtly salute, promptly replied, I shall always, be ready to bear testimony that it has not been through any fault of your excellency.' Major-General Phillips then advanced, and he and General Gates saluted, and shook hands with the familiarity of old acquaintances. The Baron Reidesel and other officers Were introduced in their turn."
General Gates was remarkable for his humanity to prisoners, and a desire, to mitigate the sufferings of the unfortunate. Among the objects in distress who claimed his attention was Lady Ackland, whose husband was wounded and captured during the battle of the 7th of October. General Gates bestowed on her the care and tenderness of a parent. In reply to a letter from General Burgoyne in her behalf, he says: "The respect due to her ladyship's rank, the tenderness due to her person and sex, were sufficient recommendations to entitle her to my protection. I am surprised that your excellency should, think that I could consider the greatest attention to Lady, Ackland in the light of an obligation. "
General Gates received the thanks of Congress, and a gold medal, as a memorial of their gratitude. Great was the credit which he acquired by this momentous event, universal joy pervaded the country, and all ranks were ready to vie with each other in their homage to the fortunate conqueror. It was not long after, that the wonderful discovery was supposed to be made, that the illustrious Washington was incompetent to the task of conducting the operations of the American army, and that General Gates, if elevated to the important station of commander-in-chief, would speedily meliorate the condition of our affairs. A discontented party in Congress, with a few interested individuals in our army, constituted the faction hostile to the saviour of his country. General Gates himself was strongly suspected of more than a passive acquiescence, and there were those who imputed to him a principal agency in the affair, which, however, he promptly disavowed. Had the project succeeded, it, would in alI probability have sealed the ruin of our army and sacrificed the glorious cause of our country. But all the eclat which General Gates had acquired, and all the splendor of his name, were insufficient to proselyte a single officer to his interest. He was not endowed with that dignity and with those illustrious qualities which were requisite to command the confidence and reverence of the army as the successor of the much-beloved Washington. I am assured by Governor Brooks that, being in company with a number of respectable officers at Valley Forge when the subject was canvassed, General Weedon, of Virginia, with great vehemence declared, that should General Gates be preferred to the chief command, he never would serve under him, but would absolutely resign his commission and quit the service, and all present were in unison with him in opinion.
A private correspondence was maintained between the intriguing General Conway and General Gates, criticising and reprobating the measures pursued by General Washington, and in one of Conway's letters he ascribes our want of success to a weak general and bad counsellors. General Gates, on finding that General Washington had been apprised of this correspondence, addressed his excellency, requesting that be would disclose the name of his informant; and, extraordinary as it may appear, in violation of the rules of decorum, he addressed the commander-in-chief on a subject of extreme delicacy in an open letter, transmitted to the President of Congress. His pretence was, that some of the members of that body might aid in detecting the person who made the communication. General Washington, however, made no hesitancy in disclosing the name and the circumstances which brought the affair to light. General Gates then, with inexcusable disingenuousness, attempted to vindicate the conduct of Conway, and to deny that his letter contained the reprehensible expressions in question, but utterly refused to produce the original letter. This subject, however, was so ably and candidly discussed by General Washington as to cover his adversary with shame and humiliation, and he was glad to discontinue the investigation. It was thought to be inexcusable in General Gates that he neglected to communicate to the commander-in-chief an account of so important an event as the capture of the British army at Saratoga, but left his excellency to obtain information by common report. In November, 1777, Congress having new-modeled the board of war, appointed General Gates the president, and he entered on the duties of the office, but retained his rank in the army. The subject of this sketch was destined to experience, in a remarkable manner, the humiliating vicissitudes of fortune. He had the conducting of the most prosperous and the most disastrous of the military enterprises in the war. In June, 1780, General Gates was by Congress vested with the chief command of our army in the Southern States. In a general battle at Camden,* August 15th, being the first and only encounter which he had with Lord Cornwallis, he suffered a total defeat, and was obliged to fly from the enemy for personal safety; and thus was the prediction of General Lee, when Gates was vested with the command, that his Northern laurels would be exchanged for Southern willows, verified. It would, however, be great injustice to attribute the misfortune altogether to the commander, under his peculiar circumstances; a large proportion of his force consisted of raw militia, who were panic-struck, and fled at the first fire; their rout was absolute and irretrievable. It may be observed, nevertheless, that his conduct in some
* In the disastrous battle at Camden, the Baron de Kalb, a brave and experienced Prussian officer, and major-general in our service, was unfortunately slain. It was said that this heroic officer cautioned General Gates against a general action, under present circumstances. His exit was marked with unfading glory, and his distinguished merit was gratefully acknowledged by Congress, in erecting a monument to his memory.
respects on this occasion did not meet the approbation of those who must be admitted as competent judges of the military operations of that fatal day. Proudly calculating on the weight of his name, and too confident in his own superiority, he slighted the counsel which he ought to have respected; and hurrying impetuously into the field of battle, his tide of prosperity ebbed as fast at Camden as it had flowed at Saratoga.
The plot to supplant General Washington is established beyond question, and it will be only sufficient to quote the following extracts from the two purest patriots and men that have ever lived, to satisfy of its truth those who are not familiar with the events of that period. Patrick Henry, writing on the subject to General Washington, says:
" While you face the armed enemies of our liberty in the field, and, by the favor of God, have been kept unhurt, I trust your country will never harbor in her bosom the miscreant who would ruin her best supporter. I wish not to flatter; but when arts unworthy honest men are used to defame and traduce you, I think it not amiss, but a duty, to assure you of that estimation in which the public hold you, Not that I think any testimony I can bear is necessary. for your support or private satisfaction, for a bare recollection of what is past must give you sufficient pleasure in every circumstance of life. But I cannot help assuring you, on this occasion, of the high sense of gratitude which all ranks of men, in this your native county, bear to you. It will give me sincere pleasure to manifest my regards, and render my best services to you or yours. I do not like to make a parade of these things, and I know you are not fond of it; however, I hope the occasion will plead my excuse."
To which General Washington replies:
"The anonymous, letter with which you were pleased to favor me was written by ******, so far as I can judge from a similitude of hands.
"My caution to avoid any thing that could
injure the service prevented me from communicating, except to
a very few of my friends, the intrigues of a faction which I
know was formed against me, since it might serve to publish our
internal dissensions; but their own restless zeal to advance
their views has too clearly betrayed them, and made concealment
on my part fruitless. I cannot precisely mark the extent of their
views, but it appeared in general that General Gates was to be
exalted on the ruin of my reputation and influence. This I am
authorized to say from undeniable. facts in my possession, from
publications, the evident scope of which could not be mistaken,
and from private detractions industriously circulated. ******,
it is generally supposed, bore the second part in the cabal;
and General Conway, I know, was a very active and malignant partizan;
but I have good reason to believe that their machinations have
recoiled most sensibly on themselves."
Yet, in the face of the evidence of the fact, General Armstrong recently avows that "the danger propagated and believed for half a century, that two distinguished officers of the army of the revolution had conspired to put down the commander-in-chief is an impudent and vile falsehood from beginning to end."
General Gates was displaced from his command by order of Congress, and his conduct subjected to the inquiry of a special court, which resulted in his acquittal, but his Saratoga laurels had. faded and he was unable to retrieve his suffering fame. "It was the general opinion that General Gates was not treated by Congress with that delicacy, or indeed gratitude, that was due to an officer of his acknowledged merit. He, however, received the order of his supersedure and suspension, and resigned the command, to General Greene with becoming dignity." General Greene asserted that if there was any mistake in the conduct of, Gates it was in hazarding an action at all against such superior force.
He was reinstated in his military command in the main army in 1782, but the great scenes of war were now passed, and he could only participate in the painful scene of a final separation. In the midst of his misfortune General Gates was called to mourn the afflictive dispensation of Providence in the death of his only son. Major Garden, in his excellent publication, has recorded the following affecting anecdote, which he received from Dr. William Reed:
"Having occasion to call on General Gates, relative to the business of the department under my immediate charge, I found him traversing the apartment which he occupied, under the influence of high excitement; his agitation was excessive - every feature of his countenance, every gesture betrayed it. Official despatches, informing him he was superceded, and that the command of the southern army had been transferred to general Greene, had just been received and perused by him. His countenance, however, betrayed no expression of irritation or resentment; it was sensibility alone that caused his emotion. an open letter, which he held in his hand, was often raised to his lips, and kissed with devotion, while the exclamation repeatedly escaped them, 'Great man! Noble, generous procedure!' When the tumult of his mind had subsided, and his thoughts found utterance, he, with strong expression of feeling, exclaimed, "I have received this day a communication from the commander-in-chief, which has conveyed more consolation to my bosom, more ineffable delight to heart, than I had believed it possible for it ever to have felt again. With affectionate tenderness he sympathizes with me in my domestic misfortunes, and condoles with me on the loss I have sustained by the recent death of an only son; and then with peculiar delicacy, lamenting my misfortune in battle, assures me that his confidence in my zeal and capacity is so little impaired, that the command of the right wing of the army will be bestowed on me so soon as I can make it convenient to join him.'"
When the revolution was completed, General Gates retired to his plantation in Virginia, where he continued about seven years, when he with his wife took up his final residence in the neighborhood of New York. In civil life General Gates was a zealous partizan, but he was always disappointed in his ambitious views. In 1800, he was elected to the New York legislature to answer the purpose of a party, and withdrew again to private life as soon as that purpose was answered. During the federal administration of the general government, he was found in the ranks of the opposite or minor party, which excluded him altogether from a share of the honors and emoluments which it was in the power of his former illustrious military leader to bestow. "A few years before his death he generously gave freedom to his slaves, making provision for the old and infirm, while several testified their attachment to him by remaining in his family. In the characteristic virtue of planters' hospitality, Gates had no competitor, and his reputation may well be supposed to put this virtue to a hard test." "He had a handsome person, and was gentlemanly in his Manners, remarkably courteous to all, and carrying good-humor sometimes beyond the nice limit of dignity. To science, literature or erudition, however, he made no pretensions, but gave indisputable marks of a social, amiable, benevolent disposition. He died without posterity at his abode near New York, on the 10th day of April, 1806, aged seventy-eight years."
BRIGADIER-GENERAL JOHN STARK.
GENERAL STARK was a native of Londonderry, in New Hampshire, and was born August 17th, 1728. When at the age of twenty-one years, he was, while on a hunting excursion, surprised and captured by the Indians, and remained four months a prisoner in their hands. He was captain of a company of rangers in the provincial service during the French war of 1755, and was with the British general, Lord Howe, when he was killed in the storming the French lines at Ticonderoga, in July, 1758. At the close of that war he retired, with the reputation of a brave and vigilant officer. When the report of Lexington battle reached him, he was engaged at work in his saw-mill. Fired with indignation and a martial spirit, he immediately seized his musket, and with a band of heroes proceeded to Cambridge. The morning after his arrival, he received a colonel's commission; and availing himself of his own popularity, and the enthusiasm of the day, in two hours he enlisted eight hundred men! On the memorable 17th of June, at Breed's-hill, Colonel Stark, at the head of his back-woodsmen of New Hampshire, poured on the enemy that deadly fire, from a sure aim, which effected such remarkable destruction in their ranks, and compelled them twice to retreat. During the whole of this dreadful conflict, Colonel Stark evinced that consummate bravery and intrepid zeal which entitle his name to honor and perpetual remembrance in the pages of our history. After the British evacuated Boston, Colonel Stark joined our northern army while retreating from Canada, and he had the command of a party of troops who were employed in fortifying the post of Mount Independence. We next find him at Trenton, in December, 1776, where be shared largely in the honors of that ever-memorable battle under Washington , when the Hessians were captured. But Stark reached the climax of his fame when, in one of the darkest and most desponding periods of the American war, he achieved a glorious victory over the enemy at Bennington. General Burgoyne, after possessing himself of Ticonderoga in July, 1776, and while advancing at the head of his victorious army towards Albany, conceived the design of taking by surprise a quantity of stores which our people had deposited at Bennington. For this enterprise he despatched a German officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Baum, with five hundred soldiers and one hundred Indians, with two field-pieces. Stark was at that time brigadier- general of militia, and was in the vicinity with about one thousand four hundred brave men from New Hampshire. He advanced towards the enemy, and drew up his men, in a line of battle. Colonel Baum, deeming it imprudent to, engage with his present force, halted his troops, and sent an express to Burgoyne for a reinforcement, and in the mean time entrenched and rendered himself as defensible as possible.
General Burgoyne immediately despatched Colonel Breyman, with about one thousand troops, to reinforce Colonel Baum; but a heavy rain and bad roads prevented his arrival in season. General Stark, on, the 16th of August, planned his mode of attack, and a most severe action ensued, which continued about two hours, with an. incessant firing of musketry and the enemy's field-artillery. Colonel Baum defended himself with great bravery till he received a mortal wound, and his whole party was defeated. It was not long after that Colonel Breyman appeared with his reinforcement, and another battle ensued, which continued obstinate on both sides till sunset, when the Germans yielded, and the victory on our side was complete, the trophies of which were four brass field-pieces and more than seven hundred prisoners. Congress, on the 4th of October following, passed a resolve of thanks to General Stark, and the officers and troops under his command, for their brave and successful attack and signal victory, and that Brigadier Stark be appointed a brigadier-general in the army of the United States. General Stark volunteered his services under General Gates at Saratoga, and assisted in the council which stipulated the surrender of General Burgoyne, nor did he relinquish his valuable services till he could greet his native country as an Independent Empire. General Stark was of the middle stature, not formed by nature to exhibit an erect, soldierly mien. His manners were frank and unassuming; but he manifested a peculiar sort of eccentricity and negligence, which precluded all display of personal dignity, and seemed to place him among those of ordinary rank in life. But, as a courageous and heroic soldier, he is entitled to high rank among those who have been crowned with unfading laurels, and to whom a large share of glory is justly due. His character as a private citizen was unblemished, and he was ever held in respect. For the last few years of his life, he enjoyed a pecuniary bounty from the government. He lived to the advanced age of ninety-three years, eight months and twenty-four days and died May 8th, 1822.
MAJOR-GENERAL JOHN SULLIVAN.
GENERAL SULLIVAN has a claim to honorable distinction among the general officers of the American army. Before the revolution, he had attained to eminence in the profession of the law in New Hampshire. But indulging a laudable ambition for military glory, he relinquished the fairest prospects of fortune and fame, and, on the commencement of hostilities, appeared among the most ardent patriots and intrepid warriors. He was a member of the first Congress, in 1774; but, preferring a military commission, he was in 1776 appointed a brigadier-general of the American army, then at Cambridge, and soon obtained the command on Winter-hill. The next year he was ordered to Canada, and, on the death of General Thomas, the command of the army devolved on him. The situation of our army in that quarter was inexpressibly distressing, destitute of clothing, dispirited by defeat and constant fatigue, and a large proportion of the troops sick with the small-pox, which was attended by an unprecedented mortality. By his great exertions and judicious management he meliorated the condition of the army, and obtained general applause. On his retiring from that command, July 12, 1776, the field-officers thus addressed him: "It is to you, sir, the public are indebted for the preservation of their property in Canada; it is to you we owe our safety thus far. Your humanity will call forth the silent tear and the grateful ejaculation of the sick. Your universal impartiality will force the applause of the wearied soldier." In August, 1776, he was promoted to the rank of major-general, and soon after was, with Major-General Lord Stirling, captured by the British in the battle on Long Island. General Sullivan being paroled, was sent by General Howe with a message to Congress, after which, he returned to New York. In September he was exchanged for Major General Prescott. We next find him in command of the right division of our troops, in the famous battle at Trenton, and he acquitted himself honorably on that ever memorable day.
In August, 1777, without the authority of Congress or the commander-in-chief, he planned and executed an expedition against the enemy on Staten Island. Though the enterprise was conducted with prudence and success in part, it was said by some to be less brilliant than might have been expected, under his favorable circumstances; and as that act was deemed a bold assumption of responsibility, and reports to his prejudice being in circulation, a court of inquiry was ordered to investigate his conduct. The result was an honorable acquittal. Congress resolved that the result so honorable to General Sullivan is highly pleasing to Congress, and that the opinion of the court be published, in justification of that injured officer. In the battles at Brandywine and at Germantown, in the autumn of 1777, General Sullivan commanded a division, and in the latter conflict his two aids were killed, and his own conduct was so conspicuously brave, that General Washington in his letter to Congress concludes with encomiums on the gallantry of General Sullivan, and the whole right wing of the army who acted immediately under the eye of his excellency. In August, 1778, General Sullivan was sole commander of an expedition to the island of Newport, in cooperation with the French fleet under the Count D'Estaing. The Marquis de la Fayette and General Greene volunteered their services on the occasion. The object of the expedition was defeated, in consequence of the French fleet being driven off by a violent storm. By this unfortunate event the enemy were encouraged to engage our army in battle, in which they suffered a repulse, and General Sullivan finally effected a safe retreat to the main. This retreat, so ably executed, without confusion, the loss of baggage or stores, increased the military reputation of General Sullivan, and redounds to his honor as a skilful commander.
The bloody tragedy acted at Wyoming, in 1778, had determined the commander-in-chief, in 1779, to employ a large detachment from the continental army to penetrate into the heart of the Indian country, to chastise the hostile tribes and their white associates and adherents, for their cruel aggressions on the defenceless inhabitants. The command of this expedition was committed to Major-General Sullivan, with express orders to destroy their settlements, to ruin their crops, and make such thorough devastations as to render the country entirely uninhabitable for the present, and thus to compel the savages to remove to a greater distance from our frontiers. General Sullivan had under his command several brigadiers and a well-chosen army, to which were attached a number of friendly Indian warriors. With this force he penetrated about ninety miles through a horrid, swampy wilderness and barren mountainous deserts, to Wyoming, on the Susquehannah river, thence by water to Tioga, and possessed himself of numerous towns and villages of the savages. During this hazardous expedition, General Sullivan and his army encountered the most complicated obstacles, requiring the greatest fortitude and perseverance to surmount. He explored an extensive tract of country, and strictly executed the severe but necessary orders he had received. A considerable number of Indians were slain, some were captured, their habitations were burned, and their plantations of corn and vegetables laid waste in the most effectual manner. "Eighteen villages, a number of detached buildings, one hundred and sixty thousand bushels of corn, and those fruits and vegetables which conduce to the comfort and subsistence of man, were utterly destroyed. Five weeks were unremittingly employed in this work of devastation." On his return from the expedition, he and his army received the approbation of Congress. It is remarked on this expedition by the translator of M. Chastelleux's Travels, an Englishman then resident in the United States, that the instructions given by General Sullivan to his officers, the order of march he prescribed to his troops, and the discipline he had the ability to maintain, would have done honor to the most experienced ancient or modern generals. At the close of the campaign of 1779, General Sullivan, in consequence of impaired health, resigned his commission in the army. Congress, in accepting of his resignation, passed a resolve, thanking him for his past services. His military talents, and bold spirit of enterprise, were universally acknowledged. He was fond of display, and his personal appearance and dignified deportment commanded respect.
After his resignation, he resumed his professional pursuits at the bar, and was much distinguished as a statesman, politician, and patriot. He acquired very considerable proficiency in general literature, and an extensive knowledge of men and the world. He received from Harvard University a degree of Master of Arts, and from the University of Dartmouth a degree of Doctor of Laws. He was one of the convention that formed the state constitution for New Hampshire, was chosen into the first council, and was afterwards elected chief magistrate in that state, and held the office for three years. In September, 1789, he was appointed judge of the District court for the District of New Hampshire, and continued in the office till his death, in 1795.
MAJOR-GENERAL THOMAS CONWAY,
Knight of the Order of St. Louis.
THIS gentleman was born in Ireland, and went with his parents to France, at the age of six years, and was from his youth educated to the profession of arms. He had obtained considerable reputation as a military officer and as a man of sound understanding and judgment. He arrived from France with ample recommendations, and Congress appointed him a brigadier-general in May, 1777. He soon became conspicuously inimical to General Washington, and sought occasions to traduce his character. In this he found support from a faction in Congress, who were desirous that the commander-in-chief should be superseded. The Congress not long after elected General Conway to the office of inspector-general to our army, with the rank of major-general, though he had insulted the commander-in-chief, and justified himself in doing so. This gave umbrage to the brigadiers over whom he was promoted, and they remonstrated to Congress against the proceeding, as implicating their honor and character. Conway, now smarting under the imputation of having instigated a hostile faction against the illustrious Washington, and being extremely unpopular among the officers in general, and finding his situation did not accord with his feelings and views, resigned his commission, without having commenced the duties of inspector. He was believed to be an unprincipled intriguer, and after his resignation, his calumny and detraction of the commander-in-chief, And the army generally, was exercised with unrestrained virulence and outrage.
No man was more zealously engaged in the scheme of elevating General Gates to the station of commander-in- chief. His vile insinuations and direct assertions in the public newspapers and in private conversation, relative to the incapacity of Washington to conduct the operations of the army, received countenance from several members of Congress, who were induced to declare their want of confidence in him, and the affair assumed an aspect threatening the most disastrous consequences. Conway maintained a correspondence with General Gates on the subject, and in one of his letters he thus expresses himself. "Heaven has been determined to save your country, or a weak general and bad counsellors would have ruined it." He was himself at that time one of the counsellors, against whom he so basely inveighs. Envy and malice ever are attendant on exalted genius and merit. But the delusion was of short continuance; the name of Washington proved unassailable, and the base intrigue of Conway recoiled with bitterness on his own head. General Cadwallader, of Pennsylvania, indignant at the attempt to vilify the character of Washington, resolved to avenge himself on the aggressor, in personal combat. In Major Garden's Anecdotes of the Revolutionary War, &c., we have the following detailed particulars of the duel:
"The parties having declared themselves ready, the word was given to proceed. General Conway immediately raised his pistol, and fired with great composure, but without effect. General Cadwallader was about to do so, when a sudden gust of wind occurring, he kept his pistol down, and remained tranquil. 'Why do you not fire, General Cadwallader?' exclaimed Conway. 'Because,' replied General Cadwallader, 'we came not here to trifle. Let the gale pass, and I shall act my part.'
'You shall have a fair chance of performing it well,' rejoined Conway, and immediately presented a full front. General Cadwallader fired, and his ball entered the mouth of his antagonist; he fell directly forward on his face. Colonel Morgan, running to his assistance, found the blood spouting from behind his neck, and, lifting up the club of his hair, saw the ball drop from it. It had passed through his head, greatly to the derangement of his tongue and teeth, but did not inflict a mortal wound. As soon as the blood was sufficiently washed away to allow him to speak, General Conway, turning to his opponent, said, good-humoredly, 'You fire, general, with much deliberation, and certainly with a great deal of effect,' The calls of honor being satisfied, all animosity subsided, and they parted, free from all resentment."
General Conway, conceiving his wound to be mortal, and believing death to be near, acted honorably, in addressing to General Washington, whom he had perfidiously slandered, the following letter of apology:
"PHILADELPHIA, February 23d, 1778.
"SIR: I find myself just able to hold my pen during a few minutes, and take this opportunity of expressing my sincere grief for having done, written, or said any thing disagreeable to your excellency. My career will soon be over; therefore justice and truth prompt me to declare my last sentiments. You are in my eyes the great and good man. May you long enjoy the love, esteem and veneration of these states, whose liberties you have asserted, by your virtues!
"I am, with the greatest respect,
"Your Excellency's most obedient and humble servant,
GENERAL LEE was an original genius, and one of the most eccentric and extraordinary characters of the age. His brilliant talents, military prowess, and extensive intelligence, would have entitled him to preeminence in the days of chivalry. He could dignify with honor an elevated station, and it was not difficult for him to degrade his rank by indulging in a malignant, sordid passion for personal satire and invective. From the qualities and manners of a gentleman, he could descend to the level of a querulous clown. The profession of arms was his delight from infancy, and he was commissioned at the early age of eleven years. In the year 1762, he bore a colonel's commission, and served under General Burgoyne in Portugal, where he signalized himself by his martial skill and active enterprises. He afterwards served as an aid-de-camp to his Polish majesty, with the rank of major-general. He exhausted every valuable treatise, both ancient and modern, on the military art, and his capacious mind was stored with knowledge on every subject which he could collect from reading, conversation and extensive travelling in Europe. He was honored with the acquaintance of princes and noblemen, yet his manners were rude and singular, partly from nature and partly from affectation. To his strong powers of intellect, he added literary accomplishments, and the knowledge of six languages beside his own. As a statesman, he appeared to be influenced by an innate principle of republicanism; an attachment to these principles was implanted in the constitution of his mind, and he espoused the cause of America as a champion of her emancipation from oppression. He pertinaciously opposed every oppressive measure of the British cabinet towards the American colonies, even while he was in their service. On his arrival in this country, he became daily more enthusiastic in the cause of liberty, and he travelled rapidly through the colonies, animating, both by conversation and his eloquent pen, to a determined and persevering resistance to British tyranny. Thus he acquired a large share of popularity, and his presence among the people at this crisis was considered as a most fortunate and propitious omen. He probably expected to have become the first in military rank in America, but in 1775, he accepted a commission of second major-general from our Congress, having previously resigned that which he held in the British service, and relinquished his half-pay. He accompanied General Washington to join the troops assembled near Boston, in July, 1775, and he was considered as a real acquisition to our cause. In the spring of 1776 be was ordered to New York, to take the command and to fortify that city for defence. Not long after, he was appointed to the command of the southern department, and in his travels through the country, he received every testimony of high respect from the people. General Sir Henry Clinton and Sir Peter Parker, with a powerful fleet and army, attempted the reduction of Charleston while be was in command. The fleet anchored within half-musket- shot of the fort on Sullivan's island, where Colonel Moultrie, one of the bravest and most intrepid of men, commanded. A tremendous engagement ensued on the 28th of June, 1776, which lasted twelve hours without intermission. The whole British force was completely repulsed, after suffering an irreparable loss. General Lee and Colonel Moultrie received the thanks of Congress for their signal bravery and gallantry. Our hero had reached the pinnacle of his military glory, the eclat of his name alone appeared to enchant and animate the most desponding heart.
But here we pause to contemplate the humiliating reverse of human events. He returned to the main army in October, and in marching at the head of a large detachment through the Jerseys, having, from a desire of retaining a separate command, delayed his march several days in disobedience of express orders from the commander-in-chief, he was guilty of most culpable negligence in regard to his personal security. He took up his quarters two or three miles from the main body, and lay for the night, December 13th, 1776, in a careless, exposed situation. Information of this being communicated to Colonel Harcourt, who commanded the British light-horse, he proceeded immediately to the house, fired into it, and obliged the general to surrender himself a prisoner. They mounted him on a horse in haste, without his cloak or hat, and conveyed him in triumph to New York. A splendid triumph indeed it was, for next to Washington he was the most highly prized as a captive by the British, who considered him as the soul of the American army, and at that juncture of our affairs a more grievous loss, Washington thought, could not have been sustained. The commander-in-chief greatly lamented his capture, as he entertained a high opinion of his martial skill, and he was apprehensive that the British general would treat him with indignity and rigor. Not having any prisoner of his rank, his excellency immediately proposed to exchange for him five Hessian field-officers, captured at Trenton, which is equivalent to the rank of major-general. The British commander affected to consider Lee as a deserter from his majesty's service, and refused to listen to proposals for an exchange, but treated him with all the rigor of a state criminal of the first magnitude. This compelled the American commander, by order of Congress, to retaliate on the persons of five Hessian officers, and also on Colonel Campbell, who was now committed to a dungeon. After the capture of General Burgoyne and his army, the enemy relaxed in their rigorous treatment, and General Lee was soon exchanged for Major-General Prescott. It is next to be seen in what manner General Lee terminated his career in the continental service. In the battle at Monmouth on the 28th of June, 1778, he commanded the van of the American troops, with orders from the commander-in-chief to attack the retreating enemy. Instead of obeying this order, he conducted in an unworthy manner, and greatly disconcerted the arrangements of the day. His excellency, advancing to the field of battle, met him in his disorderly retreat, and accosted him with strong expressions of disapprobation. Lee, incapable of brooking even an implied indignity, and unable to restrain the warmth of his resentment, used improper language in return, and some irritation was excited on both sides for the moment. Lee on the same day addressed two letters to the commander-in-chief, couched in disrespectful language, and with an air of defiance solicited a trial for his conduct, in consequence of which he was immediately put under arrest. A courtmartial, of which Lord Stirling was president, was ordered for his trial on the following charges: 1st, For disobedience of orders in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeably to repeated instructions. 2d, For misbehaviour before the enemy on the same day, by making an unnecessary, disorderly and shameful retreat. 3d, For disrespect to the commander-in-chief in two letters, dated July 1st and June 28th. The letter dated July 1st was so dated my mistake; it was written June 28th. The court found him guilty on all the charges, and sentenced him to be suspended from any command in the armies of the United States of America for the term of twelve months. He made a masterly defence, and endeavored to prove that any other course than that pursued would have given the enemy great advantage, and hazarded the destruction of our army. In his adversity General Lee was not altogether destitute of advocates as respects the affair of Monmouth; they allege that, Were it not for the disrespectful letters to his excellency, Lee would have been acquitted, and the degree of punishment seems in some measure to justify this opinion. If he had been proved fully guilty of all the charges, a suspension for one year would be inadequate to the magnitude of the crime. It appears also that Congress did not without some demur sanction the sentence of the court-martial. When at length their confirmation of the sentence was promulgated, it was like a mortal wound to the lofty, aspiring spirit of General Lee. Pointing to his dog, he exclaimed, " Oh, that I was that animal I that I might not call man my brother." He became outrageous, and from that moment he was more open and virulent in his attack on the character of the commander-in-chief and did not cease in his unwearied endeavors, both in his conversation and writings, to lessen his reputation in the estimation of the army and the public. He was an active abettor of General Conway in his calumny and abuse of General Washington, and they were believed to be in concert in their vile attempts to supersede his excellency in the supreme command. With the hope of effecting his nefarious purpose, he published a pamphlet, replete with scurrilous imputations unfavorable to the military talents of the commander-in-chief; but this with his other malignant allegations were consigned to contempt. At length Colonel Laurens, one of General Washington's aids, unable longer to suffer this gross abuse of his illustrious friend, demanded of Lee that satisfaction which custom has sanctioned as honorable. A rencounter accordingly ensued, and Lee received a wound in his side. Lee, now finding himself abandoned by his friends, degraded in the eye of the public, and despised by the wise and virtuous, retired to his sequestered plantation in Virginia. In this spot, secluded from all society, he lived in a sort of hovel, without glass windows or plastering, or even a decent article of house furniture; here he amused himself with books and dogs. On January 10th, 1780, Congress resolved that Major-General Lee be informed that they have no further occasion for his services in the army of the United States. In the autumn of 1782, wearied with his forlorn situation and broken spirit, he resorted to Philadelphia, and took lodgings in an ordinary tavern. He was soon seized with a disease of the lungs, and, after a few days' confinement, he terminated his mortal course, a martyr to chagrin and disappointment, October 2d, 1782. The Iast words which he was heard to utter, were, " Stand by me, my brave grenadiers!" The citizens of Philadelphia were much affected with his unexpected death, and his funeral was attended by a large concourse of people, the clergy of different denominations, the president and members of Congress, and of the assembly of Pennsylvania, the minister of France and his secretary, General Baron de Viomenil, the minister of War, and several other officers of distinction, both of the French and of the American army.
General Lee was rather above the middle size, "plain in his person, even to ugliness, and careless in his manners, even to a degree of rudeness; his nose was so remarkably aquiline, that it appeared as a real deformity. His voice was rough, his garb ordinary, his deportment morose. He was ambitious of fame, without the dignity to support it. In private life, he sunk into the vulgarity of the clown." His remarkable partiality for dogs was such, that a number of these animals constantly followed in his train, and the ladies complained that he allowed his canine adherents to follow him into the parlor, and not unfrequently a favorite one might be seen on a chair next his elbow at table.
In the year 1776, when our army lay at White Plains, Lee resided near the road which General Washington frequently passed, and he one day with his aids called and took dinner; after they had departed, Lee said to his aids, " You must look me out other quarters, or I shall have Washington and his puppies calling till they eat me up.". The next day he ordered his servant to write with chalk on the door, " No victuals cooked here to-day." The company, seeing the hint on the door, passed with a smile, at the oddity of the man. "The character of this person," says one who knew him well, "is full of absurdities and qualities of a most extraordinary nature. His understanding was great, his memory capacious, and his fancy brilliant. He was a correct and elegant classical scholar, and both wrote and spoke his native language with perspicuity, force and beauty. From these circumstances he was at times a most agreeable and instructive companion. His temper was naturally sour and severe. He was seldom seen to laugh, and scarcely to smile. The history of his life is little less than the history of disputes, quarrels and duels in every part of the world. He was vindictive to his enemies. His avarice had no bounds. He never went into a public and seldom into a private house where he did not discover some marks of ineffable and contemptible meanness. He grudged the expense of a nurse in his last illness, and died in a small dirty room in the Philadelphia tavern, called the Canastoga Wagon, attended by no one but a French servant, and Mr. Oswald the printer, who once served as an officer under him. He was both impious and profane. In his principles, he was not only an infidel, but he was very hostile to every attribute of the Diety. His morals were exceedingly debauched. His appetite was so whimsical, as to what he ate and drank, that he was at all times and in all places a most troublesome and disagreeable guest. His judgment in war was generally sound. He was extremely useful to the Americans in the beginning of the revolution, by inspiring them with military ideas and a contempt for British discipline and valor. It is difficult to say whether the active and useful part he took in the contest arose from personal resentment against the king of Great Britain, or from a regard to the liberties of America. It is certain he reprobated the French alliance and republican forms of government after he retired from the American service. He was in the field brave in the highest degree, and, with all his faults and oddities, was beloved by his officers and soldiers. He was devoid of prudence, and used to call it a rascally virtue. Two virtues he possessed in an eminent degree, sincerity and veracity. He was never known to deceive or desert a friend, and he was a stranger to equivocation, even where his safety or character was at stake. It was notorious that General Lee was a man of unbounded personal ambition; and, conscious of his European education, and preeminent military talents and prowess, be affected a superiority over General Washington, and constantly aimed at the supreme command, little scrupulous as to the means employed to accomplish his own advancement. In reference to his base detraction, General Washington, in a letter to a friend, said:
"What cause is there for such a profusion of venom as he is emitting on all occasions? - a simple narration of facts would defeat all his assertions, notwithstanding they are made with an effrontery which few men do, and, for the honor of human nature, ought to possess." - "mf this gentleman is envious of my station, and conceives that I stand in his way to preferment, I can assure him, in Most solemn terms, that the first wish of my soul is to return to that peaceful retirement, and domestic ease and happiness, whence I came. To this end all my labors have been directed, and for this purpose have I been more than four years a perfect slave, endeavoring, under as many embarrassing circumstances as ever fell to any man's lot to encounter, and as pure motives as any man was ever influenced by, to promote the cause and service I had embarked in." - Garden's Anecdotes.
The following is an extract from General Lee's will:
"I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or church-yard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist Meeting House, for since I have resided in this country, I have kept so much bad company while living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead."
Thomas Paine once said of Lee, that "he was above all monarchs, "and below all scum."
THIS extraordinary man is already recorded in our revolutionary history, in the character of a valiant and intrepid officer, and in the next page as a sordid and infamous traitor to his country. He was a native of Connecticut, where he was known as a half-bred apothecary, a retailer, a skipper, and a jockey. Under pretence of bankruptcy, he committed perjury with the view of defrauding his creditors. But his mind was formed for bold and desperate enterprise, and he was chosen captain of a militia company of volunteers. On hearing of the battle at Lexington, he marched with his company, and arrived at head-quarters, at Cambridge, about the last of April, 1775, where he was promoted to a colonel. He immediately repaired to the vicinity of Lake Champlain, and united with Colonel Allen and his party, who were preparing to execute their plan for taking possession of the British garrison at Ticonderoga. This enterprise was crowned with success, without bloodshed, and an immense quantity of valuable ordnance and munitions of war was taken for the use of our army. After which, he proceeded down the lake to St. John's in a small schooner, and seized by surprise an armed sloop of superior force, which he brought off with several prisoners. In September following, Colonel Arnold was invested with the command of eleven hundred men, destined on a very extraordinary and arduous expedition - no less than penetrating through the unexplored wilderness to Quebec, by the route of Kennebec river. Colonel Burr, late vice-president of the United States, was with his party. The expedition was attended by the most distressing circumstances which can be imagined, during which Arnold conducted with unexampled resolution, and the soldiers exercised the greatest fortitude and patience, and accomplished an undertaking almost incredible. The men were obliged to drag their batteaux over falls, up rapid streams, over carrying places, and to march through morasses, thick woods, and over mountains for about three hundred and twenty miles. A part of the detachment, consisting of about three hundred men, under Colonel Enos, returned to Cambridge to avoid absolute starvation in the wilderness. Some of those who persevered were compelled to feed on dogs, which they devoured without sparing legs or skin, and also their cartridge boxes, leather breeches and shoes. Colonel Arnold appears to have defeated his own object by an imprudent act. He intrusted to a transient Indian a letter to a friend in Quebec; the Indian betrayed his trust, and delivered the letter to the British commandant, who immediately adopted measures for defence and to oppose their march. In December, 1775, Colonel Arnold having reached the vicinity of Quebec, was second in command under General Montgomery, and led a party in the boldest and most spirited manner to the attack of the city of Quebec, by escalade, where he received a wound by a musket-ball in his leg, and the brave Montgomery was slain. In January, 1776, Arnold was promoted to the rank of brigadier, and had the command of the miserable remains of our army, and retreated to Crown Point. He took from merchants at Montreal goods to a very considerable amount, under circumstances which implicated his honor and character. He ordered Colonel Hazen to take charge of the goods; but, conceiving that they were taken unjustly from the proprietors, he refused to comply. On the retreat of the army, part of the goods were pillaged, in consequence of which Colonel Hazen was subjected to a trial, but was honorably acquitted. This affair excited much indignation among several respectable officers, who, having received abusive treatment from Arnold, demanded of General Gates, who now commanded in chief, that he should be arrested and brought to trial; but Gates, viewing him as a brave and valuable officer, was determined that he should command our fleet on Lake Champlain, and therefore waived all complaints exhibited against him. AfterArnold was invested with the command of our fleet, Sir Guy Carleton proceeded up Lake Champlain with a superior force, and a furious contest ensued. No man could have conducted with more intrepid bravery than did General Arnold. By his valorous conduct he acquired the highest applause; but being overpowered, he was obliged to retreat with the Congress galley, which he commanded, and four gondolas, Which he ran on shore and blew up in despite of every effort of the enemy to prevent it. He even displayed a nice point of honor in keeping his flag flying, and not quitting his galley till she was in flames, that the enemy should not board and strike the American flag. In April, 1777, General Tryon commanded an expedition from New York, consisting of about two thousand men, to destroy a deposit of stores at Danbury, in Connecticut. General Arnold by a forced march reached the scene of action, and with his usual impetuosity engaged the enemy; and, when within a few yards, a whole platoon was leveled at him, by which his horse was killed. A soldier was advancing to thrust his bayonet through him, when, with great presence of mind he took his pistols from his holsters, and shot him down. Having mounted another horse, that also was shot through his neck. Congress resolved, that a horse properly caparisoned be presented to General Arnold, as a token of their approbation of his gallant conduct, in which he had one horse killed and another wounded. In May following, he was created a major-general. When, in August, 1777, General St. Leger invested Fort Stanwix, General Arnold marched, at the head of a detachment from Fort Edward, to raise the siege; but the enemy, alarmed at his approach, abandoned the enterprise before his arrival. In September a serious difference took place between him and General Gates, who commanded our army at Saratoga. A conscious superiority on one side, and an arrogant temper on the other, sufficed to render the contention almost irreconcilable. The consequence was, that Arnold in a rage requested to be discharged from under the command of General Gates, and the latter immediately gave him a passport to repair to General Washington's head-quarters, though a battle with Burgoyne was daily expected. He postponed his departure, however, till the sanguinary conflict at Bemis's heights commenced, October 7th, when he betrayed great agitation and wrath. Rushing into the field of battle, and acting the part of a desperado, he exposed himself in the most rash and intemperate manner. In the heat of the action, when our troops were gaining advantage, General Arnold ordered Lieutenant-Colonel Brooks, at the head of his regiment, to force the German lines, which was instantly obeyed, and they boldly entered at the sallyport together, where Arnold received a wound in his leg, and his horse was killed under him. He had so little control of his mind, that while brandishing his sword in animating the officers and soldiers, he struck Captain Pettingill and Captain Brown, and wounded one of them on his head, without assigning any cause. These gentlemen the next day requested Colonel Brooks to accompany them to Arnold's quarters, to demand an explanation. He disavowed all recollection of the fact, and denied that he had struck an officer; but when convinced of it, readily offered the required apology. It is but justice to confess, that by his military phrenzy, or romantic heroism, Arnold contributed to the honor and success of the day. General Washington had a high sense of his gallantry, and presented him a pair of elegant pistols. After the evacuation of Philadelphia by the British army, General Arnold was intrusted with the command in that city. Here his display of connubial gallantry, as in the field his martial spirit, was crowned with honor and success. His addresses were auspiciously received, and he was honored with the hand of the then celebrated Miss Shippen, one of the most elegant and accomplished ladies in the city, but of a tory family. His whole soul now appeared to be engaged in the promotion of his own interest and aggrandizement. He occupied the house of Governor Penn, the best in the city, and this he furnished in a rich and splendid style.
His carriage and equipage we're equally splendid, and he rioted in the luxury and pageantry of a nobleman. "Proud of the trappings of office, and ambitious of an ostentatious display of wealth and greatness, the certain mark of a narrow mind, he had wasted the plunder acquired at Montreal, where his conduct had been remarkably reprehensible, and had dissipated the rich harvest of peculation he had reaped at Philadelphia, where his rapacity had no bounds. He deliberately seized every thing he could lay his hands on in the city, to which be could affix an idea that it had been the property of the disaffected party, and converted it to his own use." (History of the American Revolution by Mrs. M. Warren.)
Unmindful of his military station, he engaged in various speculations and in privateering, in both of which he was unfortunate. He made exorbitant demands on government, in compensation for public services, and made bitter complaints against Congress, pretending that he suffered injustice from their hands. The commissioners appointed to liquidate his accounts, rejected a large proportion of his demands, as being unjust and unfounded, and for which he deserved severe reprehension. He was charged by the citizens of Philadelphia with gross acts of extortion, and of peculating on the public funds; and he was at length so notorious for his follies and vices, and so audacious in his reproaches against what he termed the ingratitude of his country, that the general voice demanded an investigation of his conduct. The government of Pennsylvania, as well as many respectable citizens, exhibited formal charges against him, and Congress directed that he should be arrested, and tried by a court-martial. He was sentenced to be reprimanded by the commander-in-chief, which being approved by Congress, was carried into execution accordingly. The emoluments of his office, with all his embezzlements, proved inadequate to his exigencies, and his funds being exhausted, he was unable to meet the demands of his creditors. Thus he evinced a mind destitute of both moral principle and political integrity. Rebuffed and mortified in his vicious pursuits, he became soured and disaffected to our government and cause, and the most malevolent and rancorous spirit agitated his unprincipled bosom, restrained by a want of opportunity to indulge his revenge. At the opening of the campaign in June, 1780, the commander-in-chief offered him the command of the left wing of our army, to which his rank entitled him; but this be declined, under the pretext that the wound which he received at Saratoga, rendered him incapable of active service in the field. He solicited the station of commander of the garrison at West Point, and in this request he was indulged by the commander-in-chief, who still had confidence in him as a military officer. He was now invested with a situation which furnished him with the meditated opportunity of executing his treasonable purpose, and avenging himself on his country and the glorious cause of freedom. He engaged in a secret correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, and actually agreed to put him in possession of the important garrison at West Point.
The British general, appreciating the importance of the acquisition, immediately closed with him for the stipulated sum of ten thousand pounds sterling, and sent Major John Andre, his adjutant-general and aid-de-camp, to negotiate the arrangement for the surrender of the post. A British sloop-of-war, called the Vulture, conveyed him up the North river within twelve miles of West Point, and in the night of the 21st of September, 1780, by direction of General Arnold, this gentleman was brought on shore, under the fictitious name of John Anderson. Arnold received him on the beach, and conducted him to the house of Joshua Smith, within our lines, and the night was spent in ripening the infamous plot for execution. The following night it was attempted to reconduct him on board the Vulture; but the boatmen who had been seduced to bring him on shore, utterly refused to perform the service, and a return to New York by land was the only alternative. Arnold furnished him with numerous papers, containing all the necessary information respecting the garrison, and a passport, naming him John Anderson, on public business, with which he proceeded on his journey.
Having reached Tarrytown, on his route, Andre was suddenly arrested by three militia-men, who, finding the above-mentioned papers concealed in his boots, immediately delivered them into the hands of Lieutenant-Colonel Jameson, the commanding officer on our lines. With the view of giving Arnold an opportunity to escape, Andre had the address to induce Colonel Jameson to inform him by letter that John Anderson was taken on his way to New York. On this being received by express, the guilty traitor, struck with the pressing danger of his situation, instantly informed his wife that he had received some letters which obliged him to flee his country for ever, and desired her to retire and remain in her chamber. He now called earnestly for a horse, and mounted the first that presented; and, instead of the usual path, he took a shorter route, riding down a very steep and dangerous precipice to the landing. This has since been called "Traitor's-hill." The barge being in readiness, he sprang into it, and ordered the boatmen to proceed down the river, and he was soon on board the Vulture, which Andre two nights before had left, and which immediately sailed with her prize for New York. Arnold was apprised that General Washington, being on his return from a journey to Hartford, intended to visit him that day, and he was momentarily expected. Accordingly his excellency arrived soon after Arnold had absconded; and not finding him at his quarters, he passed over the river to West Point, to view the works, and with the expectation of finding him at his post; but being disappointed, he returned to Arnold's quarters, where he still found that no one could account for his absence. But in a few hours despatches arrived from Colonel Jameson, announcing the capture of Major Andre, and this was accompanied by his own letter of confession. The mysterious affair was now developed. Arnold's treason and elopement admitted at once of explanation. An officer was immediately sent to our fort at Verplank's Point, with orders to fire at Arnold's barge; but it was too late; she had already reached the Vulture. In about an hour and a half after Arnold had absconded, Dr. Eustis, who had charge of the hospital in the vicinity, was called to the assistance of Mrs. Arnold, whose situation was alarming. He found her at the head of the stair-case, in great dishabille, her hair disheveled, knowing no one, and frantic in the arms of her maid and Arnold's two aids, struggling to liberate herself from them. She was carried back to her chamber, and fell into convulsions, which lasted several hours. In a lucid interval, she inquired of the doctor if General Washington was in the house, expressing a wish to see him. Believing that she intended to say some thing which would explain the secret of Arnold's unaccountable absence, he hastened below, gave notice of her request, and conducted the general to her chamber, who remained no longer than to hear her deny that he was General Washington, and to witness the return of her distraction. When Arnold deserted his post, a corporal, by name James Lurvey, was the coxswain of his barge. After their arrival on board the Vulture, and Arnold had held an interview with the officers in the cabin, he came on deck, and said to his bargemen, "My lads, I have quitted the rebel army, and joined the standard of his Britannic Majesty. If you will join me, I will make sergeants and corporals of you all; and for you, James, I will do some thing more." Indignant at the offer, Lurvey promptly replied, "No, sir; one coat is enough for me to wear at a time!" - a worthy example of fidelity in the corporal, and a cutting sarcasm on the guilty traitor. Two only of the crew remained, and they were British deserters. The brave corporal, with the remainder of the men, returned; not, however, in the barge; Arnold had the meanness to retain that for his own use, and gave them a miserable boat in exchange.
After his arrival on board the Vulture, he addressed to General Washington the following letter:
"On board the Vulture, September 25th,
"SIR: The heart which is conscious of its own rectitude, cannot attempt to palliate a step which the world may censure as wrong. I have ever acted from a principle of love to my country, since the commencement of the present unhappy contest between Great Britain and the colonies; the same principle of love to my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man's actions.
"I have no favor to ask for myself; I have too often experienced the ingratitude of my country to attempt it; but from the known humanity of your excellency, I am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold, from every insult and injury that the mistaken vengeance of my country may expose her to. It ought to fall only on me: she is as good and as innocent as an angel, and is incapable of doing wrong. I beg she may be permitted to return to her friends in Philadelphia, or to come to me, as she may choose; from your excellency I have no fears on her account, but she may suffer from the mistaken fury of the country.
"I have to request that the inclosed letter may be delivered to Mrs. Arnold, and she permitted to write to me.
"I have also to ask that my clothes and baggage, which are of little consequence, may be sent to me. If required, their value shall be paid in money.
"I have the honor to be, with great regard and esteem,
"Your Excellency's most obedient, humble servant.
"B. ARNOLD. "His Excellency General Washington;
"N. B. In justice to the gentlemen of my family, Colonel Varrick, and Major Frank, I think myself in honor bound to declare that the as well as Joshua Smith, Esquire, who I know is suspected, are totally ignorant, of any transactions of mine that they had reason to believe were injurious to the public."
Mrs. Arnold was permitted to go unmolested to her husband at New York, and to take her chariot with her. Arnold had the audacity to remonstrate to General Washington against the execution of Major Andre, and to attempt to intimidate him by threats of retaliation, should the unfortunate prisoner suffer; but his excellency treated both the traitor and his affrontive letters with sovereign contempt. He next published an address to the people of the United States, in which he pretended to ascribe his defection from the American cause to principle, of which it is well known that he ever has been destitute. He attempts to vindicate his conduct by the ridiculous pretence that he was actuated by motives favorable to the interests of his country by bringing the war to a speedy termination, as though the destiny of America was doomed to be at his disposal , and that he was authorized to decide the fate of millions. In his artful address he labored to palliate his own guilt and to influence others to follow his vile example. He execrated with peculiar bitterness our alliance with France, and accused Congress of tyranny and usurpation, and a total disregard of the interest and welfare of the people. Not satisfied with this insidious appeal to the people, he addressed by proclamation "the officers and soldiers of the continental army, who had the real interest of their country at heart, and who were determined to be no longer the tools and dupes of Congress or of France." As inducement to the American officers and soldiers to desert the cause which they had embraced, he represented that the corps of cavalry and infantry which he was authorized to raise, would be on the same footing with the other troops in the British service; that he would with pleasure advance those whose valor he had witnessed, And that the private men who might join him should receive a bounty of three guineas each, besides payment at their full value for horses, arms, and accoutrements. He endeavored to paint in lively colors the deplorable condition of our country, and to reprobate our Congress as oppressors, and their authority as tyrannical. "You are promised liberty," he exclaims, "but is there an individual in the enjoyment of it, saving your oppressors? Who among you dare speak or write what he thinks against the tyranny which has robbed you of your property, imprisons your persons, drags you to the field of battle, and is daily deluging your country with your blood?" Again, "what is America now but a land of widows, orphans, and beggars? As to you who have been soldiers in the continental army, can you at this day want evidence that the funds of your country are exhausted, or that the managers have applied them to their own private uses? In either case, one surely can no longer continue in their service with honor and advantage. Yet you have hitherto been their supporters in that cruelty which, with an equal indifference to yours, as well as to the labor and blood of others, is devouring a country that from the moment you quit their colors will be redeemed from their tyranny." These proclamations failed of the effect which they were designed to produce; and notwithstanding all the hardships, sufferings and irritations which the Americans were called to encounter, "Arnold remains the solitary instance of an American officer who abandoned the side first embraced in the contest, and turned his sword on his former companions in arms." "I am mistaken," says Washington in a letter to a friend, "if at this time Arnold is undergoing the torments of a mental hell. From some traits of his character which have lately come to my knowledge, he seems to have been so hacknied in crime - so lost to all sense of honor and shame - that while his faculties still enable him to continue his sordid pursuits, there will be no time for remorse." "This man," says Hamilton, "is in every sense despicable. In addition to the scene of knavery and prostitution during his command at Philadelphia, which the late seizure of his papers has unfolded, the history of his command at West Point is a history of little as well as of great villanies. He practised every dirty act of peculation, and even stooped to connexions with the sutlers of the garrison to defraud the public." A respectable officer, in a letter to a friend, speaks of Arnold in the following language: "It is not possible for human nature to receive a greater quantity of guilt than he possesses. Perhaps there is not a single obligation, moral or divine, but what he has broken through. It is discovered now that, in his most early infancy, hell marked him for her own, and infused into him a full proportion of her own malice. His late apostacy is the summit of his character. He began his negotiations with the enemy, to deliver up West Point to them, long before he was invested with the command of it, and whilst he was still in Philadelphia; after which, he solicited the command of that post from the ostensible cause that the wound in his leg incapacitated him for an active command in the field." His papers contain the most authentic and incontestable proofs of his crime, and that he regarded his important employments only as affording him opportunities to pillage the public with impunity. The crimes of this unprincipled conspirator are thus summed up: Treason, avarice, hypocrisy, ingratitude, barbarity, falsehood, deception, peculation and robbery. He aimed to plunge a dagger into the bosom of his country, which had raised him from the obscurity in which he was born, to honors which never could have been the object even of his hopes. He robbed his country at the time of her deepest distress, having directed his wife to draw all she could from the commissaries' store, and sell or store it, though at a time when the army was destitute of provisions. He robbed the soldiers when they were in want of necessaries and defrauded his own best friends who trusted and had tendered him the most essential services. He spoke contemptuously of our allies, the French, and his illiberal abuse of every character opposed to his fraudulent and wicked transactions exceeds all description. For the sake of human nature it were to be wished that a veil could for ever be thrown over such a vile example of depravity and wickedness.
An effigy of Arnold, large as life, was constructed by an artist at Philadelphia, and, seated in a cart, with the figure of the devil at his elbow, holding a lantern up to the face of the traitor to show him to the people, having his name and crime in capital letters. The cart was paraded the whole evening through the streets of the city, with drums and fifes playing the Rogue's March, with other marks of infamy, and was attended by a vast concourse of people. The effigy was finally hanged, for the want of the original, and then committed to the flames. Yet this is the man on whom the British have bestowed ten thousand pounds sterling as the price of his treason, and appointed to the rank of brigadier-general in their service. It could scarcely be imagined that there was an officer of honor left in that army, who would debase himself and his commission by serving under or ranking with Benedict Arnold!
In January, 1781, Arnold was by Sir Henry
Clinton invested with the command of one thousand seven hundred
men, supported by a naval force, on an expedition to Virginia,
where he committed extensive ravages on the rivers and along
the unprotected coast, plundering the plantations to the extent
of his power. According to report, he shipped off a cargo of
negroes, which he had stolen, to Jamaica, and sold them for his
own emolument. Having taken an American captain prisoner, he
inquired of him what the Americans would do with him if he should
fall into their hands; the officer replied, they would cut off
the leg that was wounded at Saratoga, and bury it with the honors
of war, and hang the remainder of his body on a gibbet. In September,
1781, Arnold was again vested with a command, and sent on a predatory
expedition against New London, in Connecticut, his native state.
After taking possession of the fort, they made a merciless slaughter
of the men who defended it, and destroyed an immense quantity
of provisions, stores and shipping; sixty dwelling-houses and
eighty-four stores were destroyed, and about one hundred inhabitants
were deprived of their habitations, and most of them of their
all. This terminated the career of this monster of wickedness
in America. At the close of the war, he accompanied the royal
army to England. "The contempt that followed him through
life," says a late elegant writer (Alexander Garden, Esquire.
- Anecdotes of the Revolutionary War) "is further illustrated
by the speech of the present Lord Lauderdale, who, perceiving
Arnold on the right hand of the king, and near his person as
he addressed his parliament, declared, on his
return to the Commons, that, however gracious the language he had heard from the throne, his indignation could not but be highly excited at beholding, as he had done, his majesty supported by a traitor." " And on another occasion, Lord Surrey, since duke of Norfolk, rising to Speak in the House of Commons, and perceiving Arnold in the gallery, sat down with precipitation, exclaiming, 'I will not speak while that man' (pointing to him) 'is in the house."'
He purchased in England a quantity of goods which he brought over to New Brunswick; the store and goods took fire, and the whole were consumed; - but, according to report they were insured to a much greater amount than their real value. After this event, no further laurels remained for him to achieve; he recrossed the Atlantic, and died in London, June 14th, 1801.
AMONG those of our countrymen, who most zealously engaged in the cause of liberty, few sustained a rank more deservedly conspicuous than General Knox. He was one of those heroes, of whom it may be truly said, that he lived for his country.
The ardor of his youth and the vigor of his manhood were devoted to acquiring its liberty and establishing its prosperity. Born in Boston, July, 1750, his childhood and youth were employed in obtaining the best education that the justly-celebrated schools of his native town afforded. In very early life he opened a book-store, for the enlargement of which he soon formed an extensive correspondence in Europe; but little time elapsed before, at the call of his country, he relinquished this lucrative and increasing business. Indebted to no adventitious aid, his character was formed by himself; the native and vigorous principles of his own mind made him what he was. Distinguished among his associates, from the first dawn of manhood, for a decided predilection to martial exercises, be was at the age of eighteen selected by the young men of Boston as one of the officers of a company of grenadiers - a company so distinguished for its martial appearance, and the precision of its evolutions, that it received the most flattering encomium from a British officer of high distinction.
This early scene of his military labors served but as a school for that distinguished talent which afterward shone with lustre, in the most brilliant campaigns of an eight years' war: through the whole of which, he directed the artillery with consummate skill and bravery.
His heart was deeply engaged in the cause of freedom; he felt it to be a righteous cause, and to its accomplishment yielded every other consideration. When Britain declared hostilities, he hesitated not a moment what course he should pursue. No sordid calculation of interest retarded his decision. The quiet of domestic life, the fair prospect of increasing wealth, and even the endearing claims of family and friends, though urged with the most persuasive eIoquence, had no power to divert the determined purpose of his mind.
In the early stages of British hostility, though not in commission, he was not an inactive spectator. At the battle of Bunker-hill, as a volunteer, be was constantly exposed to danger, in reconnoitering the movements of the enemy, and his ardent mind was engaged with others in preparing those measures that were ultimately to dislodge the British troops from their boasted possession of the capital of New England.
Scarcely had we began to feel the aggressions of the British arms, before it was perceived that, without artillery, of which we were then destitute, the most important objects of the war could not be accomplished. No resource presented itself, but the desperate expedient of procuring it from the Canadian frontier. To attempt this, in the agitated state of the country, through a wide extent of wilderness, was an enterprise so replete with toil and danger, that it was hardly expected any one would be found hardy enough to encounter its perils. Knox, however, saw the importance of the object; he saw his country bleeding at every pore, without the power of repelling her invaders; he saw the flourishing capital of the North in the possession of an exulting enemy, that we were destitute of the means essential to their annoyance, and formed the daring and generous resolution of supplying the army with ordnance, however formidable the obstacles that might oppose him. Young, robust and vigorous, supported by an undaunted spirit, and a mind ever fruitful in resources, he commenced his mighty undertaking, almost unattended, in the winter of 1775, relying solely for the execution of his object on such aid as he might procure from the thinly-scattered inhabitants of the dreary region through which he had to pass. Every obstacle of season, roads, and climate were surmounted by determined perseverance; and a few weeks, scarcely sufficient for a journey so remote, saw him return laden with ordnance and the stores of war - drawn in defiance of every obstacle over the frozen lakes and mountains of the north. Most acceptable was this offering to our defenceless troops, and most welcome to the commander-in-chief, who well knew how to appreciate a service so important. This expedition stamped the character of him who performed it for deeds of enterprise and daring. He received the most flattering testimony of approbation from the commander-in-chief and from Congress, and was in consequence of this important service appointed to the command of the artillery, of which he had thus laid the foundation, in which command he continued with increasing reputation through the Revolutionary War.
Among the incidents that occurred during the expedition to Canada, was his accidental meeting with the unfortunate Andre, whose subsequent fate was so deeply deplored by every man of feeling in both nations. His deportment as a soldier and gentleman so far interested General Knox in his favor, that he often afterward expressed the most sincere regret that he was called by duty to act on the tribunal that pronounced his condemnation.
During the continuance of the war, the corps of artillery was principally employed with the main body of the army, and near the person of the commander-in-chief, and was relied on as an essential auxiliary in the most important battles.
There was perhaps no period of the war when the American cause assumed an aspect so precarious as in the autumn of 1777. Philadelphia, then the centre and capital of our country - preeminent for its wealth, its population, and its trade - a place most distinguished for the progress of the arts, was destined to fall within the grasp of our haughty foe. In the campaign that preceded its occupation by the British, General Knox was a conspicuous actor, eager for the contest, yet compelled with his brave companions to lament that the equipments of our army were unequal to the heroic spirits of its soldiers. Trenton and Princeton witnessed his enterprise and valor. At that critical period of our affairs, when hope had almost yielded to despair, and the great soul of Washington trembled for his country's freedom, Knox was one of those that strengthened his hand and encouraged his heart. At that awful moment, when the tempest raged with its greatest fury, he, with Greene and other heroes, stood as Pillars of the Temple of Liberty, till the fury of the storm was past.
The letters of General Knox, still extant, written in the darkest periods of the revolution, breathe a spirit of devotedness to the cause in which he had embarked, and a firm reliance on the favor of Divine Providence; from a perusal of those letters it is evident that he never yielded to despondency, but, in the most critical moments of the war, confidently anticipated its triumphant issue.
In the bloody fields of Germantown and Monmouth, without derogating from the merits of others, it may be said that during the whole of these hard-fought battles, no officer was more distinguished for the discharge of the arduous duties of his command. In the front of the battle he was seen animating his soldiers, and pointing the thunder of their cannon. His skill and bravery were so conspicuous on the latter occasion, that be received the particular approbation of the commander-in-chief, in general orders issued by him the day succeeding that of the battle, in which he says, that "the enemy have done them the justice to acknowledge that no artillery could be better served than ours." But his great exertions on that occasion, together with the extreme heat of the day, produced the most alarming consequences to his health. To these more important scenes, his services were not confined; with a zeal devoted to our cause, he was ever at the post of danger; and the immortal hero, who stands first on the list of heroes and of men, has often expressed his sense of their services. In every field of battle where Washington fought, Knox was by his side. The confidence of the commander-in-chief, inspired by early services, was thus matured by succeeding events. There can be no higher testimony to his merits than that, during a war of so long continuance, passed almost constantly in the presence of Washington, he uniformly retained his confidence and esteem, which at their separation had ripened into friendship and affection. The parting interview between General Knox and his illustrious and beloved chief, after the evacuation of New York, by the British, and Knox had taken possession of it at the bead of a detachment of our army, was inexpressibly affecting. The hour of their separation having arrived, Washington, incapable of utterance, grasped his hand, and embraced him in silence and in tears. His letters, to the last moment of his life, contain the most flattering expressions of his unabated friendship. Honorable to himself as had been the career of his revolutionary services, new laurels were reserved for him at the siege of Yorktown. To the successful result of this memorable siege, the last brilliant act of our revolutionary contest, no officer contributed more essentially than the commander of the artillery. His animated exertions, his military skill, his cool and determined bravery in this triumphant struggle, received the unanimous approbation of his brethren in arms, and he was immediately created major-general by Congress, at the recommendation of the commander-in-chief, with the concurrence of the whole army.
The capture of Lord Cornwallis closed the contest, and with it his military life. Having contributed so essentially to the successful termination of the war, he was selected as one of the commissioners to adjust the terms of peace, which service be performed, in conjunction with his colleagues, much to the satisfaction of his country. He was deputed to receive the surrender of the city of New York, and soon after appointed to the command of West Point. It was here that he was employed in the delicate and arduous duty of disbanding the army, and inducing a soldiery, disposed to turbulence by their privations and sufferings, to retire to domestic life, and resume the peaceful character of citizens.
It is a fact most honorable to his character that, by his countenance and support, he rendered the most essential aid to Washington, in suppressing that spirit of usurpation which had been industriously fomented by a few unprincipled and aspiring men, whose aim was the subjugation of the country to a military government. No hope of political elevation - no flattering assurances of aggrandizement - could tempt him to build his greatness on the ruin of his country.
The great objects of the war being accomplished, and peace restored to our country, Gen. Knox was early, under the confederation, appointed secretary of war by Congress, in which office he was confirmed by President Washington, after the establishment of the federal government. The duties of this office were ultimately increased, by having those of the navy attached to them - to the establishment of which his counsel and exertions eminently contributed. He differed in opinion from some other members of the cabinet on this most interesting subject. One of the greatest men*whom our country has produced (President Adams), has uniformly declared that he considered America much indebted to his efforts for the creation of a power which has already so essentially advanced her respectability and fame.
Having filled the office of the war department for eleven years, he obtained the reluctant consent of President Washington to retire, that he might give his attention to the claims of a numerous and increasing family. This retirement was in concurrence with the wishes of Mrs. Knox, who had accompanied him through the trying vicissitudes of war, shared with him its toils and perils, and who was now desirous of enjoying the less busy scenes of domestic life. A portion of the large estates of her ancestor, General Waldo, had descended to her, which he by subsequent purchase increased till it comprised the whole Waldo Patent, an extent of thirty miles square, and embracing a considerable part of that section of Maine which now constitutes the counties of Lincoln, Hancock, and Penobscot. To these estates he retired from all concern in public life, honored as a soldier and beloved as a man, devoting much of his time to their settlement and improvement. He was induced repeatedly to take a share in the government of the state, both in the house of representatives and in the council - in the discharge of whose several duties, he employed his wisdom and experience with the greatest assiduity. At that time Maine and Massachusetts composed one great and powerful state. His enlarged and liberal policy, as a legislator, was manifested on every question on which he acted, and in every debate in which he took a part. While at the council board of Massachusetts, on all public political questions, his opinions had great weight with Governor Strong, at that period the worthy chief magistrate of the commonwealth. Though independent and firm in his political sentiments, like Strong, he was disposed to conciliate those who differed from him in opinion, and was wholly free from the spirit of intolerance.
In 1798, when the French insults and injuries towards this country called for resistance, be was one of those selected to command our armies, and to protect our liberty and honor from the expected hostilities of the French Directory: happily for our country, their services were not required.
Retired from the theatre of active life, he still felt a deep interest in the prosperity of his country. To that portion of it which he had chosen for his residence, his exertions were more immediately directed. His views, like his soul, were bold and magnificent; his ardent mind could nor wait the ordinary course of time and events; it outstripped the progress of natural improvement. Had he possessed a cold, calculating mind, he might have left behind him the most ample wealth; but he would not have been more highly valued by his country, or more beloved by his friends. - He died at Montpelier, his seat in Thomaston, 25th of October, 1806, from sudden internal inflammation, at the age of fifty-six, from the full vigor of health.,
The great qualities of General Knox, were not merely those of the hero and the statesman; with these were combined those of the elegant scholar and the accomplished gentleman. There have been those as brave and as learned, but rarely a union of such valor with so much urbanity - a mind so great; yet so free from ostentation.
In sketching the life of such a man, it is not the least interesting part to recall his private virtues. Long will he be remembered as the ornament of every circle in which he moved - as the amiable and enlightened companion, the generous friend, the man of feeling and benevolence. His conversation was animated and cheerful, and he imparted an interest to every subject that he touched. In his gayest moments he never lost sight of dignity; he invited confidence, but repelled familiarity. His imagination was brilliant, his conceptions lofty; and no man ever possessed the power of embodying his thoughts in more vigorous language; when ardently engaged, they were peculiarly bold and original, and you irresistibly felt in his society that his intellect was not of the ordinary class. Yet no man was more unassuming - none more delicately alive to the feelings of others. He had the peculiar talent of rendering all who were with him happy in themselves; and no one ever more feelingly enjoyed the happiness of those around him. Philanthropy filled his heart; in his benevolence there was no reserve - it was as diffusive as the globe, and extensive as the family of man. His feelings were strong and exquisitely tender. In the domestic circle they shone with peculiar lustre: here, the husband, the father and the friend, beamed in every smile - and if at any time a cloud overshadowed his own spirit, he strove to prevent its influence from extending to those that were dear to him. He was frank, generous, and sincere; and in his intercourse with the world, uniformly just. His house was the seat of elegant hospitality, and his estimate of wealth, was its power of diffusing happiness. To the testimony of private friendship, may be added that of less partial strangers, who have borne witness both to his public and private virtues. Lord Moira, who is now perhaps the greatest general that England can boast of, has in a late publication spoken in high terms of his military talents. Nor should the opinion of the Marquis Chattelleux be omitted: : "As for General Knox," he says, "to praise him for his military talents alone, would be to deprive him of half the eulogium he merits; a man of understanding, well informed, gay, sincere and honest - it is impossible to know without esteeming him, or to see without loving him - thus have the English, without intention, added to the ornaments of the human species, by awakening talents where they least wished or expected." Judge Marshall also, in his Life of Washington, thus speaks of him: "Throughout the contest of the revolution, this officer had continued at the head of the American artillery, and, from being colonel of a regiment, had been promoted to the rank of major-general. In this important station he had preserved a high military character, and on the resignation of General Lincoln, had been appointed secretary of war. To his great services, and to unquestionable integrity, he was admitted to unite a sound understanding; and the public judgment as well as that of the chief magistrate, pronounced him in all respects competent to the station he filled. The president was highly gratified in believing that his public duty comported with his private inclination, in nominating General Knox to the office which had been conferred on him under the former government." - As a proof of their estimation of his literary attainments, the president and trustees of Dartmouth College conferred on him the degree of Doctor of Laws.
Perhaps in no instance of his life was his warmth of heart and strength of attachment more fully exemplified than at the closing interview of the principal leaders of the war, when they were about to take a final leave of each other, never probably to meet again. It was most natural that the recollection of the past scenes should awaken the liveliest emotions: the bosom of the soldier is the residence of honor and of feeling, and no man cherished them more fondly than Knox. He proposed to his brethern in arms that some course should be adopted to keep alive the generous attachment which was the fruit of their long intercourse and mutual toils and dangers; the proposal accorded with the feelings of the principal officers of the army, who united in forming the Cincinnati, a society whose object was to cement and perpetuate the friendship of its founders, and transmit the same sentiment to their descendants. Pure as are believed to have been the motives of those who associated in forming this society, there were not wanting some who, from ignorance or illiberality, professed to doubt the purity of its character and the correctness of its objects. But it is a fact, derived from the highest authority (Governor Brooks), that it had, from its commencement, the unqualified approbation of the commander-in-chief, expressed in the most decided language. Such sanction as that of Washington could not fail to do away every suspicion of its unfairness, and to establish the rectitude of its motives and principles.
General Knox was a supporter of Christian institutions, and contributed much, by his liberality and his example, to promote the preaching of the gospel. It always appeared to afford him the highest pleasure to bear testimony to the excellence of Christianity, and he often expressed his firm belief that its exalted principles were intended to correct the heart and to purify the life; to make man what he ought to be in this world, and to prepare him for the more elevated enjoyments of the future. He most firmly believed in the immortality and the immateriality of the soul.
From his reflections on religion, committed by him to paper, it is evident that his thoughts were often and intensely employed on the all-important concerns of a future state of existence; that he firmly befieved in an overruling Providence, and that he was created and sustained by its power and goodness. He considered the order, harmony and beauty of creation, as affording the most convincing proof of wisdom and design. He thought the universal distribution of blessings among mankind, furnished conclusive evidence of the goodness of the Being from whose bounty they flow. But it was a subject on which he reasoned for himself, unfettered by the arrogant dogmas of the churchmen, or the metaphysical subtleties of the schools. He expressed exalted pleasure in the full conviction that the arm of Almighty Power was extended for the protection of the whole family of man, without respect to Jew or Gentile. The exclusive pretensions of the various sects and denominations in the church, he considered the fruits of human invention, and altogether unworthy the wisdom of the Almighty Mind.
Elevated by the aspirations of his own exalted mind, he believed our residence on this globe, which he considered but an atom in creation, as only the commencement of a progressive state of existence, still rising toward perfection from sphere to sphere, till, by successive gradations of intellectual and moral improvement, we are prepared for the presence and enjoyment of the All-perfect Being who created us.