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quarter. General Washington proceeded to Philadelphia, where he arrived on the 27th of November, and the Marquis de la Fayette returned to Europe.
The capture of Cornwallis was the most decisive event of this glorious' war. The military operations in America were afterward languid and desultory ; few in number, and unimportant in their nature; injurious or fatal, indeed, to individuals, but of little public advantage or loss to either of the contending parties.
While General Washington was marching against Cornwallis, the loyalists of North Carolina, under M`Neil and M‘Dougall, made themselves masters of Hillsborough, and took a number of prisoners. M'Neil and some of his followers were killed in a rencounter with the friends of congress. M'Dougall was pursued; but effected his escape with a number of prisoners to Wilmington.
Late in October Major Ross made an incursion into the country on the Mohawk at the head of 500 men, regulars, rangers, and Indians. Colonel Willet, with about an equal force, found him at Johnstown. An engagement ensued, when part of the Americans fled without any apparent cause ; but as the rest maintained their ground, the British retreated. Willet, with a select party, pursued them ; and, on the morning of the 30th, overtook their rear at à ford on Canada creek. He immediately attacked them, killed a number, and put the rest to flight. Among the slain was Walter Butler, who perpetrated the massacre at Cherry Valley. He asked quarter ; but was reminded of Cherry Valley, and instantly despatched.
The convention of Saratoga was a severe blow to the British arms; but the surrender of Cornwallis at Yorktown was still more decisive. It produced a great change in America, and gave a new and more cheering aspect to the affairs of the Union. In the early part of the year, the cause of the states was in a drooping condition, and American freedom seemed verging to ruin. Congress was surrounded with embarrassments, and victory had fled from their standards. The success of Morgan at the Cow-Pens and the exertions of Greene dissipated the gloom in the south ; but, in the middle and northern provinces nothing had occurred to awaken hope and stimulate exertion. The capture, however, of Cornwallis and his army, which was achieved by a remarkable concurrence of good conduct and fortunate circumstances, altered the face of things. Congress, the state governments, and all the classes of the people, exulted with joy. A brighter sun shone on their heads, elevated their hopes, and invigorated their exertions. The clamors of the discontented were silenced, the hearts of the desponding reanimated, and the wavering confirmed in their attachment to the Union. A new impulse was given to the public mind; but, above all, the ray of peace, which seemed now to burst through the gloom of war, was grateful to their souls.
If the effects of the surrender of Yorktown were great in America, they were not less in Europe. The government and people of Britain entertained the most sanguine hopes from the operations of the army in Virginia. The expense of the war was heavy, and every year increasing. The people murmured under the load; but were encouraged to bear with patience, in the hope of being soon relieved, and ultimately reimbursed by the exclusive trade of the subjugated provinces. Many flattered themselves that the campaign in Virginia would annihilate the power of congress, and put an end to the contest.
In the midst of these fond anticipations, the news of the surrender at Yorktown arrived, and struck both the ministry and people with amazement and dismay. The blow was equally severe and unexpected. It laid their towering hopes in the dust, and filled them with painful apprehensions. They now discovered, what former experience had been unable to teach them, that a country may be overrun, but can not easily be subdued, while the minds of the people continue hostile. Thev who before disapproved of the war now spoke of it in
terms of the strongest reprobation, and many who formerly had given it their zealous support began to express a desire of peace. The public mind underwent a great change, and sentiments which not long before met only with scorn and detestation became popular and fashionable ; such a fluctuating thing is public opinion.
Parliament met on the 27th of November, and in the king's speech the disasters in America were not dissembled, but were urged as a motive for the vigorous prosecution of the war. Addresses, in the usual form, were moved ; which brought on animated debates, in which some of the ministry expressed their intention of altering the plan of the war, and of merely retaining possession of those posts which they held in America, and of directing their main efforts against France, Spain, and Holland. In both houses of parliament the addresses were carried by large majorities. About that time Mr. Laurens, who had been detained a close prisoner in the Tower, of which Cornwallis was governor, was released.
Though ministry carried the address by triumphant majorities, yet the popular feeling became strong against the continuance of the war.
The lord mayor and aldermen of the city of London, a great influential body, whose sentiments serve as a sort of political barometer, the indications of which it is imprudent to disregard, voted an address favorable to peace, which, owing to a difference on a point of ceremony, was not presented, but it was published. All classes became weary of the protracted struggle; the house of commons began to waver, and, on the 27th of February, the opposition carried an address against the prolongation of the war in America.
We now return to America, where the first thing that meets us is one of those painful incidents which result from the infuriated passions engendered by civil commotions. On the 24th of March, Captain Haddy, who commanded the troops in a blockhouse on the river Tom in New Jersey, was attacked, overpowered, and made prisoner by a party of loyalists from New York. In a few days afterward, they led him out and hanged him, with a label on his breast declaring that he was put to death in retaliation for some of their brethren who had suffered a similar fate. General Washington took up the matter seriously ; submitted it to his officers, laid it before congress, and wrote to the British general, demanding that the perpetrators of the horrid deed should be given up, and threatening retaliation in case of refusal. The British general ordered a courtmartial to inquire into the offence. It acquitted the person accused. General Washington ordered a British prisoner of equal rank with Haddy to be chosen by lot, and sent to Philadelphia, that he might suffer as a retaliatory victim. The lot fell on Captain Asgill, an English youth of only nineteen years of age, and respectably connected. Great interest was made to save the life of this young gentleman : he was ultimately set free ; but was long kept in a state of painful suspense.
During winter, the states labored to prepare for another campaign ; but, owing to the exhaustion of the country, the preparations went on slowly. Every one wished to devolve the burden on his neighbor, and every state seemed afraid of bearing more than its share of the war. Notwithstanding the late success in the southern states, and brilliant issue of the campaign in Virginia, there was much disinclination to vigorous exertions. The troops were few in number, and almost destitute of every necessary. Many of them were almost naked, and nearly all were ill fed. Every department was without money and without credit. Discontent was general among the officers and soldiers, and severe measures were necessary to check a mutinous spirit in the army. Fortunately for America, while the resources of congress were exhausted, and everything was hastening to ruin, the people of Britain also had become weary of the war, and it was found expedient to change the ministry. The new servants of the crown did not inherit the military propensities of their predecessors, but were inclined to conciliation and peace.
One of the last acts of the late administration was to appoint Sir Guy Carletor afterward Lord Dorchester, commander-in-chief in America, in the room of Sir Henry Clinton; and the new ministry continued him in that high office. He took the command at New York early in May; and being also, in conjunction with Admiral Digby, appointed a commissioner to negotiate a peace, he soon communicated to General Washington copies of the votes of parliament respecting peace; and also a bill which had been introduced by the ministry to authorize his majesty to conclude a peace with the colonies of North America. Those papers, he said, manifested the dispositions of the government and people of Britain toward America ; and if they were met with a corresponding temper, both inclination and duty would lead him to act in the spirit of conciliation. He had addressed to congress, he said, a letter containing the same communications; and he requested of General Washington a passport for the person who was to deliver it.
The American commander immediately forwarded the communications to con gress; but as the bill to enable the king to conclude peace with America had not then passed into a law; as there was no assurance that the present commissioners were empowered to offer any other terms than those which had been already rejected; as congress was suspicious that the offers were merely intended to amuse and put them off their guard, that they might be successfully attacked when reposing in security ; and as they were resolved to enter into no separate treaty, the passport was refused. Both armies, however, lay inactive. There was no peace, and there was no war. Sir Guy Carleton undertook no offensive operation ; and the army of General Washington was to feeble to attack New York. On the Hudson, the summer passed away in inactivity.
Early in August, General Washington received a letter from Sir Guy Carleton and Admiral Digby, informing him that negutiations for a general peace were begun at Paris; that the independence or the thirteen United States would be acknowledged; that Mr. Laurens was set at liberty ; and that passports were preparing for such Americans as sad been hitherto detained prisoners in Britain. This letter was soon followed by another from Sir Guy Carlton, in which he declared that he no longer saw any object of contest, and therefore disapproved of the continuance of hostilities either by sea or land, as tending to increase the miseries of individuals, without any public advantage to either party. He added, that, in consequence of this opinion, he had restrained the practice of detaching Indian parties against the frontiers of the United States, and had recalled those which were in the field. Those communications seem to have awakened the jealousy of the French minister in America ; and, in order to al lay his suspicions, congress renewed its resolution not to enter into any discus. sion for a paciâcation but in concert with his most Christian majesty.
Although the inactivity which prevailed in the north was, in a certain measure, communicated to the southern army, yet some desultory hostilities happenea in that quarter.
General St. Clair, who conducted the reinforceinents from Yorktown toward the south, reached General Greene's headquarters early in January. He had been ordered to take the post of Wilmington on his way, but the British garrison evacuated that place before his arrival, and he met with no detention there.
St. Clair experienced no hostile interruption; the number of his troors, how ever was so much diminished by the casualties of a long march, that his reinforcement did little more than supply the place in Greene's army of those solo diers who had been enti:led to their discharge on the last day of December
But feeble as the southern army was, yet, on St. Clair's arrival, General Greeno detached General Wayne across the Santee, to protect the state of Georgia. On his approach, General Clarke, who commanded the British troops in that province, amounting to about 1,000 regular soldiers, besides militia, concentrated his force in the town of Savannah. Wayne insulted his outposts, and some sharp but useless skirmishes ensued. On the 11th of July, the garrison evacuated the town of Savannah, and retired from the province.
General Leslie commanded in Charleston, and held the place till the 14th of December, though the intention of evacuating it was announced in the general orders of the 7th of August. In that interval, General Leslie humanely proposed to General Greene a suspension of hostilities; to which the stern and inflexible American did not consider himself empowered to accede. In the same spirit of conciliation, General Leslie offered full payment for rice and other provisions sent into the town, but threatened to take them without compensation if withheld. General Greene, suspecting that it was intended to collect a large quantity of rice in Charleston to supply the army while it acted against the French islands in the West Indies, declined the arrangement. The consequence was, that the British made some foraging incursions into the country, and skirmishes ensued. In themselves these skirmishes were unimportant; but they derived a lively interest from the death of Lieutenant-Colonel Laurens, who fell in one of them, to the deep regret of his countrymen, among whom he was universally esteemed and beloved.
While the Americans slumbered on their arms, the war which their quarrel had engendered was actively carried on in other quarters of the world. In the West Indies the French fleet had long been successful; but, on the 12th of April, Count de Grasse was entirely defeated and taken prisoner by Admiral Rodney, which restored the balance to a kind of equilibrium, and threatened a prolongation of the struggle. In the month of July, the French army in Virginia marched northward, and reached the states of New England in October. It was given out that they were to winter there ; but the real intention was to transport them to the West Indies, for which purpose the Marquis de Vaudreuil, with a fleet of fifteen sail-of-the-line, arrived at Boston on the 10th of August. By the long continuance of the contest, and by mutual reverses, all parties were now become tired of war and desirous of peace. Negotiations for a general pacification were going on at Paris, but were protracted by the mutual jealousies and interfering claims of the several parties interested. Great Britain admitted the independence of the thirteen United States, and so removed a great cause of the war; but the boundaries of the states, and their share in the fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland, were not so easily adjusted, and on both of these points France and Spain seemed unfriendly to the wishes of America.
After a tedious and intricate negotiation, in which the firmness, judgment, and penetration of the American commissioners, were exercised, preliminary articles of peace were signed on the 30th of November; and news of the conclusion of a general peace reached the United States early next April.
A line running through the middle of the great lakes and their connecting waters, and from a certain point on the St. Lawrence to the bottom of the bay of Fundy, was agreed to as the northern boundary of the states; and their western frontier was to rest on the Mississippi. It was stipulated that British creditors should be allowed to recover their debts in the United States ; that congress should recommend to the several states the restoration of the estates of real British subjects which had been confiscated during the war; and that no further confiscations should be made.
On the 19th of April, 1783, the day which completed the eighth year of the