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of war. Without distinction of rank, he confined them in prisons with malefactors, under the general designation of rebels. This brought on, first, remonstrances from Washington, repeated in terms of indignation, and demanding for American prisoners the respect due to their rank, conformable to military usage; and finally, on the harsh and insolent refusal of General Gage, retaliation upon British officers and soldiers. This barbarous system of mutual injustice, was relaxed on the arrival of General Howe, who admitted the captured Americans to the privileges of lawful enemies. Washington, to whom the necessity of acting harshly in self-defence had given great pain, immediately withdrew his own orders, and restored the British prisoners to the same privileges in return. Complaints, however, constantly occurred of the abuse of American prisoners, and communications passed between the commanding generals on that subject. After the capture of General Lee in December, the circumstances of his case, and the treatment he received, aggravated the irritation which had been mutually felt, and reproduced the harsher system of retaliation. Lee had been an officer in the British service, and it was alledged that he had joined the Americans before the resignation of his British commission had been actulaly accepted. For this reason, Sir William Howe undertook to consider him as excluded from the terms of exchange agreed upon, and treated him as a deserter taken in arms. He refused to parole him, and peremptorily rejected the offer of Congress to give six general officers in exchange for Lee. On this refusal, Congress ordered that the officers selected should be closely confined, and receive in every respect the same treatment as Lee. This order was carried into effect strictly, not by the Commander-in-chief, but the State executives, in whose custody the designated officers were. They were the British Colonel Arbuthnot, and five Hessian field officers. The order for retaliation thus enforced, was contrary to the advice and remonstrances of General Washing. ton, whose letters to Congress earnestly deprecated it as cruel and impolitic. They persisted nevertheless, and no favors were extended to the captives, until Howe consented to exchange General Lee. In the interval, the exchange of prisoners was totally suspended. The course of the war threw a great number of Americans into the hands of the enemy, and their treatment, especially at New York, is one of the blackest stains upon the arms of England in
that conflict, so fruitful in disgraces to her. The sick and the well, the mained and the wounded, with the healthy and the strong, were promiscuously crowded together, in churches converted into prisons, in common jails, or in prison-ships, without supplies, without medicines, food, or fuel
, adequate to their sustenance, and subjected, in addition, to cruel scoffs, and brutal outrages from the soldiery. Want, neglect, close confinement in filth and an impure atmosphere, at an inclement season, engendered mortal diseases, and hundreds upon hundreds perished miserably within a few weeks. The survivors were enfeebled by disease and hunger, and wounded in every manly feeling by insults and brutal stripes. In the midst of these sufferings, the royal officers were strenuous in efforts to seduce them into the British service, making liberal promises for recruits, and punishing rejection of their dishonorable proposals by ignominious beatings and increased inhumanity. "These efforts were totally fruitless. None listened to the tempter, and all the horrors of the dungeon, the perils of disease, and death itself
, were magnanimously preferred to an abandonment of the cause of their country. The offers of Washington to provide for the wants of these victims, were declined by General Howe; and even the request to send an agent, to examine into and relieve their condition, was rejected. After an obstinate and protracted controversy, the exchange was effected, and the survivors restored to their country. The wretched state in which they were sent into the American lines after the conclusion of the arrangements for exchange in the spring, testified strongly to the hardships they had endured. All of them were sickly and debilitated, and many fainted and died, before they reached head-quarters. A more humane treatment of prisoners ensued, but not for a long time afterwards was a regular system of exchange re-established.
In these discussions and negotiations, the winter passed away, and spring advanced without any decided movement on the part of the British army, and with constant efforts on the part of the American general to cover the feebleness of his actual position, and the poverty of his numbers, from the knowledge of the enemy, and to collect stores and augment his forces as rapidly as possible. In the month of May, his encampmentat Morristown was so weakly manned, aj appears by the official letters of Washington, that his safety consisted in the false information received by his opponents.
Magazines of stores were in the mean time prepared, on the east side of the North river, in the hilly country above Peekskill, called Courtlandt's manor, and the arrival from France of a stock of munitions of war, supplied some of the most pressing deficencies. A vessel of twenty-four guns reached Portsmouth with about ten thousand stand of arms, and one thousand barrels of powder, and ten thousand stands of arms were received in another quarter. The successive arrivals of recruits augmented the army of Washington to more than seven thousand men, with which he begun the campaign at the close of the month of May.
Before the regular campaign was opened between the two armies, several skirmishes had occured, of importance in the progress of events.
General Lincoln was stationed at Boundbrook, with about five hundred men. Cornwallis, who was quartered at Bruns.. | wick, conceived the idea of surprising this body,
and with this view marched upon them suddenly on the morning of the 13th of April, in two columns, of a thousand men each, advancing upon both sides of the Raritan river. They reached within a hundred paces of the American quarters before they were discovered, and Lin- . coln himself with difficulty rejoined his troops who were already engaged. He succeeded in making his retreat and bringing off his men, with the loss of about sixty : but his papers, stores, and three pieces of artillery, fell into the hands of the enemy.
An attack was made, at nearly the same time, by a body of troops despatched by Howe, against the town of Peekskill. This place is situated about fifty miles from New York, on the east side of the Hudson river, and is a kind of port to the hilly country in which the American stores had been collected. There were several magazines of the kind, in the town itself. A powerful armament was sent up the river in transports, and the American troops who garrisoned the place, seeing defence impossible, set fire to the stores, and abandoned the place. The loss was severe, but the English, after landing and taking possession, returned without delay to New Jersey.
A similar enterprise, but more important in its consequences, was undertaken by the English a few days afterwards, against the town of Danbury, which is situated near the line of New York, in the county of Fairfield, in Connecticut
There was there a large depot of stores and provisions, of great value to the Americans, which it was the object of the British expedition to capture or destroy. There were also believed to be numerous loyalists, or tories, in that part of the country, from whom aid and recruits were expected. The command was given to General Tryon, late royal governor of New York. Landing at Saugatuck, on Long Island sound, between Norwalk and Fairfield, I will
1, April 25. on the evening of the 25th of April, with two thou- * sand men, he reached Danbury without meeting resistance, on the next day. The slender garrison which was stationed there, under Colonel Huntingdon, retreated at his approach, to a stronger position in the rear. After destroying the stores, without receiving any of the expected co-operation from the loyalists, the British commenced their return, but not with the same security. The country around them had begun to rally, and the militia collected themselves at Reading, impatient to check the insulting progress of the enemy. Arnold, who was in the neighborhood on recruiting service, hastened to join them, and old General Wooster, now in his seventieth year, summoned reinforcements and marched with alacrity to join them. The force collected amounted to
about six hundred men; the English retreated by the way of ' Ridgefield ; but before they reached there, the Americans
had divided their forces, one party under Wooster, hanging upon the rear to harass them, whilst Arnold, with the larger
division, pushed on to Ridgefield to intercept them. In the þ pursuit, the veteran Wooster, while leading his men on, with
all the gallantry of youth, received a mortal wound. Arnold reached Ridgefield by great exertions, about midnight; and his men, augmented to about five hundred in number, threw up barricadoes across the streets, manned the houses with soldiers, and determined to make a stand. A hot action en, sued, but the great superiority of the British in number, enabled them to out-flank the American position, and force them to retreat. Tryon remained all night at Ridgefield, and committed numerous outrages, burning and wantonly destroying private property, as well as a church, in which some public stores were placed. The next morning, he pursued his march to Norwalk, along the east bank of the
lo Saugatuck river, pursued and harassed by Arnold, * who kept the west side, until both parties reached Saugatuck bridge. There a sharp conflict was kept up for a quarter of
an hour, but the English forced their way by hard fighting, to their shipping, and embarked under a galling fire from Arnold's militia. The American stores destroyed in this expedition, were a heavy loss to them. They had about sixty men killed and wounded, while the loss of the British was five hundred.
General Wooster died of his wounds on the 2d of May. Congress passed resolutions expressive of gratitude for his services and character, and decreed a monument to be erected to his memory. Arnold, whose horse was shot under him in the fight, received from Congress the present of a horse fully caparisoned, and was promoted to the rank of major general.
One of the most encouraging results of this expedition, was the defeat of the anticipations of the enemy of finding friends and efficient supporters among the natives. None declared themselves for the British, and the outrages committed by the invaders, roused the whole population to resentment.
Not long afterwards, a daring expedition was planned and successfully accomplished, by a party of American militia, against a depot of British stores. Magazines of forage, and provisions, had been collected at Sagg harbor, a port on the east end of Long Island, under the protection of a detachment of infantry, and an armed sloop. The navigation was believed to be entirely commanded by the English vessels. Colonel Meigs of Connecticut crossed the sound one night with a party of Connecticut militia, 170 in number, in whaleboats, and reached the Harbor before day. He surprised the guards, at the point of the bayonet, burned a dozen brigs and sloops, totally destroyed every thing on shore which the enemy had collected, and returned safely with nume: rous prisoners to Guilford. This brilliant affair took place on the 3d of May.
The main operations of both armies were, in the mean time, suspended for an unusual length of time. The British army delayed commencing any offensive operations, and that of Washington profited very much by the season of inaction. They were gradually reinforced, by recruits and militia, and their policy was to wait the development of the plans of the enemy, and make provision for encountering him in any direction, against which he might decide on moving. General Burgoyne was already in Canada, with a powerful army, and it was obvious to Washington, that General Howe would