Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

from the fate of all around him.” After an action of three hours, the troops gave way in all directions, and colonel Washington and two others, brought off Braddock, who had been mortally wounded. He attempted to rally the retreating troops; but, as he says himself, it was like endeavouring “ to stop the wild bears of the mountains." The conduct of the regular troops was most cowardly. The enemy were few in numbers and had no expectation of victory. In a sermon occasioned by this expedition, the reverend Dr. Davies, of Hanover county, thus prophetically expressed himself; “as a remarkable instance of patriotism I may point out to the public that heroic youth, col. onel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Providence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner, for some important service to his country.For this purpose he was indeed preserved, and at the end of twenty years he began to render to his country more important services, than the minister of Jesus could have anticipated. From 1755, to 1758, he commanded a regiment, which was raised for the protection of the frontiers.

In July 1758, another expedition was undertaken against fort du Quesne, in which Washington commanded the Virginia troops. By slow marches they were enabled, on the 25th of November, to reach fort du Quesne, of which peaceable possession was taken, as the enemy on the preceding night setting it on fire, had abandoned it and proceeded down the Ohio. The works in this place were repaired, and its name was changed to that of Fort Pitt. Colonel Washington now resigned his commission.

Soon after his resignation he was married to the widow of Mr. Custis, a young lady, to whom he had been for some time strongly attached, and who, to a large fortune and a fine person, added those amiable accomplishments, which fill with silent fe

licity the scenes of domestic life. His attention for several years, was principally directed to the management of his estate, which had now become considerable. · He was, at this period, a respectable member of the legislature of Virginia, in which he took a decided part in opposition to the princia ple of taxation, asserted by the British parliament. He also acted as a judge of a county court. In 1774, he was elected a member of the first congress, and was placed on all those committees, whose duty it was to make arrangements for defence. In the following year, after the battle of Lexington, when it was determined by congress to resort to arms, colonel Washington was unanimously elected commander-in-chief of the army of the united colonies. All were satisfied as to his qualifications, and the delegates from New England were particularly pleased with his election, as it would tend to unite the southern colonies cordially in the war. He accepted the appointment with diffidence, and expressed his intention of receiving no compensation for his services, and only a mere discharge of his expenses. He immerliately repaired to Cambridge, in the neighbourhood of Boston, where he arrived on the 20 of July. He forined the army into three divisions, in order, the most effectually, to inclose the enemy, intrusting the division at Roxbury to general Ward, the division on Prospect and Winter hills to general Lee, and commanding himself the centre at Cambridge. Here he had to struggle with great difficulties, with the want of ammunition, clothing, and magazines, defect of arms and discipline, and the evils of short enlistments; but instearl of yielding to despondence he bent the whole force of his mind to overcome them. He soon made the alarming discovery, that there was only sufficient powder on hand to furnish the army with nine cartridges for each man. With the greatest caution, to keep this fact a se: oret, the utmost exertions were employed to procure a supply. A vessel which was dispatched to Africa, obtained, in exchange for New England rum, all the gunpowder in the British factories; and in the beginning of winter, captain Manly captured an ordnance brig, which furnished the · American army with the precise articles, of which

it was in the greatest want. In September, general Washington dispatched Arnold on an expedition against Quebec. In February, 1776, he proposed to a council of his officers to cross the ice and attack the enemy in Boston, but they unanimously, disapproved of the daring measure. It was, however, soon resolved to take possession of the heights of Dorchester. This was done without discovery, on the night of the 4th of March, aen's on the 17th the enemy found it necessary to səyacuate the town. The recovery of Boston irtilsed congress to pass a vote of thanks to general Washington and his brave army." ;

In the belief, that the efforts of the British would be directed towards the Hudson, he hastened the army to New York, where he himself arrived on the 14th of April. He made every exertion to fortifv the city, and attention was paid to the forts in the highlands. While he met the most embarrassing difficulties, a plan was formed to assist the enemy in seizing his person, and some of his own guards engaged in the conspiracy; but it was liscovered, and some, who were concerned in it, were executed. In the beginning of July, general Howe landed his troops at Staten Island, his brother, lord Howe, who commanded the fleet, soon arrived; and as both were commissioners for restoring peace to the colonies, the latter addressed, a letter, upon the subject, to “George Washington, osquire;” but the general refused to receive it. as it did not acknowledge the public character, with which he was invested by congress, in which character only he could have any intercourse with his lordship. Another letter was sent to 6 George Washington, &c. &c. &c.” This, for the same reason, was rejected. After the disastrous battle of Brooklyn, on the 27th of August, in which Sterling and Sullivan were taken prisoners, and of which he was only a spectator, he withdrew the troops from Long Island, and in a few days le resolved to withdraw from New York. · At Kipp's bay, about three miles from the city, some works had been thrown up to oppose the enemy; but on their approach the American troops fled with precipitation. Washington rode towards the lines, and made every exertion to prevent the disgraceful flight. Such was the state of his mind at this moment, that he turned his horse towards the advancing enemy, apparently with the intention of 1 € ing upon death. His aids now seized the brid his horse and rescued him from destructive : York was, on the same day, Septem! evacuated. In October he retreated Plains, where, on the 28th, a consir it took place, in which the Americans were c i ered. After the loss of forts Washington dud Lee, he passed into New-Jersey in November, and was pursued by a triumphant and numerous army. His army did not aniount to three thousand, and it was daily diminishing; his men, as the winter commenced, were barefooted and almost naked, destitute of tents and of utensils, with which to dress their scanty provisions; and every circumstance tended to fill the mind with despondance. But general Washington was undismayed and firm. He showed himself to his enfeebled army with a serene and unembarrassed countenance, and they were inspired with the resolution of their commander. On the 8th of December he was obliged to cross the Delaware: but he had the precantion to secure the boats for seventy miles upon the river. While the

British were waiting for the ice to afford them a passage, as his own army had been reinforced by several thousand men, he formed the resolution of carrying the cantonments of the enemy by surprise. On the night of the 25th of December, le crossed the river nine miles above Trenton, in a storm of snow mingled with hail and rain, with about two thousand four hundred men. Two other detachments were unable to effect a passage. In the morning, precisely at eight o'clock, he surprised Trenton, and took 1000 Hessians prisoners, 1000 stand of arms, and six field pieces. Twenty of the enemy were killed, and of the Americans, two were killed, and two frozen to death; and one officer and four privates wounded. On the same day he recrossed the Delaware, with the fruits of his enterprise; but in two or three days passed again into New Jersey, and concentrated his forces, amounting to five thousand, at Trenton. On the approach of a superior enemy under Cornwallis, January 2, 1777, he drew up his men behind Assumpinck creek. He expected an attack in the morning, which would probably result in a ruinous defeat. At this moment, when it was hazardous, if not impracticable, to return into Pennsylvania, he formed the resolution of getting into the rear of the enemy, and thus stop them in their progress to vards Philadelphia. In the night he silently decamped, taking a circuitous route through Allentown to Princeton. A sudden change of the weather to severe cold, rendered the roads favourable for his march. About sunrise his van met a British detachment on its way to join Cornwallis, and was defeated by it; but as he came up he exposed himself to every danger, and gained a victory. With 300 prisoners he then entered Princeton. During this march many of his soldiers were without shoes, and their feet left the marks of blood upon the frozen ground. This hardship and their

« AnteriorContinuar »