Imágenes de páginas

the men; roll calling, and other military duties, to be allowed them. The officers were to be admitted to parole; and to retain their side arms. All private property and baggage was to be passed without molestation or inspection, and public property given up on honour. Every description of persons attached to the camp was included in the capitulation; the Canadians to be returned to their own country, liable to the same conditions.

These terms were honorable to the moderation and magnanimity of the American general, especially as at the time he was in possession of tidings of the atrocious conduct of the British on the Hudson. His delicacy was also strongly marked on the occasion of the delivery of the arms of the captives on the day of the surrender. A small party was appointed to receive them, and the rest of the American army retired within the lines. Every possible attention * was paid to the sick and wounded, and to the comfort and support of the whole army. The whole conduct of the Americars was marked with a tenderness and generosity which called forth the unqualified acknowledgments of the enemy. Burgoyne in person was treated with a courtesy which touched his feelings deeply at the time. At Albany he was lodged as an honored guest, with the family of General Schuyler, whose mansion and estate at Saratoga had been destroyed by Burgoyne's order. In Boston he was entertained with the same hospitality in the house of General Heath.

On the day of the surrender, the American army amounted to about fifteen thousand men, of whom ten thousand were regulars, that of Burgoyne, to 5791, of whom 2412 were Germans, and 3379 English. Among the spoils were the train of brass artillery, containing forty-two pieces; four thousand six hundred muskets, and an immense quantity of warlike stores.

Immediately after the surrender of Burgoyne, Gates marched down the Hudson to stop the devastations of Clinton and Vaughan. They immediately withdrew to New York; and, at the same time, Ticonderoga, and all the forts on the American frontier, were abandoned by the British and occupied by the Patriots. In a short time, the whole Northern department was freed from the enemy, and reinforcements were despatched to Washington.

The tidings of the capture of Burgoyne's army circulated

rapidly, and was received with unbounded exultation. As a presage of future victories, it was invaluable to the mili, tary spirit of the people, and was hailed with transports of joy as a certain pledge of the speedy establishment of Independence. It was also justly esteemed as giving such an assurance of success as would not fail to secure foreign alliances and European acknowledgments of the United States as an independent power.

The thanks of Congress were voted to General Gates and his army, and gold medals ordered to be struck to commemorate the glorious event.

The manner in which the Convention of Saratoga was subsequently observed is a disputed point in history, in which charges of bad faith are mutually made by each nation against the other. A brief notice of the leading facts will show that there were faults on both sides, and that if an unusual distrust of the intentions of the British was displayed by Congress, the true cause, if not altogether satisfactory at least defensible, is to be found in the earlier breaches of humanity, and violations of military usage, practised on American prisoners by Gage in Massachusetts, and Howe in New York and New Jersey. It is certain that the patriots who first fell into the hands of the British were held to be rebels, and denied the ordinary privileges of lawful prisoners of war. When this rigid system was relaxed so as to acknowledge their title to such treatment, they fared little better. They were refused almost every courtesy; kept in harsh, and sometimes barbarous, confinement; and in numerous instances made the victims of atrocious personal ill usage and persecution. The subject of an exchange of prisoners was, as mentioned before, one of dispute and recrimination between the commanding generals, and of resentment to Congress, from the delays, denials, and equivocations of General Howe. In the midst of these rankling causes for suspicion and anger, the Convention of Saratoga threw a preponderating number of British prisoners into the power of Congress. It is not possible that they should not have desired to keep that vast number rigidly to the terms of capitulation, and employ the victory so as to enforce the claims of their own captive countrymen, and looked with extreme sensitiveness upon any indication of willingness on the part of any portion of them to violate the terms. It is moreover rational, if not magnanimous, that they should

[ocr errors]

suspect a repetition of what they had experienced before, and perhaps too natural, that they should improve the pretexts which the conduct of any portion of the prisoners gave them, to sustain them in taking strong precautionary measures.

On the arrival of the captured army at Boston, the sol. diers were lodged in barracks, provided by the authorities; but from the unpopularity of the officers, it was difficult to obtain suitable quarters for them. They complained to Burgoyne, who remonstrated with General Gates, complaining that it was a breach of the treaty stipulations. This was followed by a request to change the place of embarkation from Boston to New York or Rhode Island, both being then in the possession of the British. In the course of the correspondence, Burgoyne used the expression that the public faith pledged at Saratoga had been broken by the United States.” Congress, who had previously sought, too eagerly, to find specific breaches of the Convention on the part of the prisoners, from all which the testimony of Gates acquitted them, saw in this declaration, and the proposal, plausible ground, perhaps a sufficient one, for arresting all further compliance with the Convention, until formally ratified by the British government. They argued, that any subsequent breach by the English, in re-enlisting in America, contrary to their agreement, could be justified on the plea of notice, or by the repetition of the same allegations, and they thought they found evidence that such a design was meditated in the proposed change of the place of embarkation. Burgoyne remonstrated in vain against this determination, retracted and explained his words, and offered every possible pledge to abide by the Convention, but Congress was inexorable. The troops were detained, and he finally sailed to England without them, on his individual parole. The imprudence of Burgoyne alone gave Congress a plausible defence for this act, but it is certain that no such use could have been made of it, had not the conduct of the British generals in America given too much reason for the distrust and resentment manifested on the occasion.

The army of Washington had not received reinforcements from the North till the latter part of October. The works on the Delaware, guarding the passage, occupied the attention of both armies. Admiral Howe having succeeded in removing the obstructions at Billing's Port, after the

Oct. 22d.

[ocr errors]

evacuation of the fort by the Americans, a joint attack by sea and land was planned against Forts Mercer and Mifflin. Fort Mifflin was commanded by Colonel Samuel Smith of Maryland, and Fort Mercer by Colonel Greene. The Augusta, a sixty-four gun ship, and the Merlin, a frigate, with several

smaller vessels, moved up to assault Fort Miffin,

on Mud Island, while Colonel Donop, with 1200 Germans, crossed into New Jersey, to attack Fort Mercer. The land assault was impetuous. Colonel Greene's force was about 500, not enough to man the outworks fully. They were in consequence slightly defended, and the entire strength of the garrison was reserved for the defence of the inner entrenchments. Colonel Donop, meeting with little opposition, poured in his Germans with great confidence and bravery, but was met with such a deadly, uninterrupted fire, that he fell, mortally wounded; his second in command shared the same fate, and the third was compelled, notwithstanding the bravery of his men, to draw them off and retreat, with prodigious loss. Four hundred of them were killed or wounded, while the garrison lost about thirty only.

Fort Mifflin in the mean time sustained an incessant bombardment from the shipping. The gallant garrison maintained their post under a shower of bombs and cannon balls, until the ebb of the tide left the Augusta and the Merlin aground, where they were burnt.

These brilliant actions only saved the forts for a while. The fort on Mud Island became the immediate point of the future operations of the enemy, and its defence is one of the most distinguished feats of determined courage exhibited during the war. From the latter part of September, up to the date of the general attack, the numbers under the command of Colonel Smith had not amounted to three hundred. Reinforced then, he had about four hundred, with whom he defended the fort against daily assaults by land and water, ' until the 11th of November. By that time the enemy had succeeded in getting possession of such positions on the heights of Province Island above, as made the fort entirely untenable. Colonel Smith was wounded in a bombardment of his post from that quarter, and forced to withdraw, and on the 15th, the garrison retired to Fort Mercer, on Red Bank, and the English occupied the deserted post. A strong division was sent, under the command of Cornwallis, against Red Bank, on the approach of which the garrison evac

uated it, and Cornwallis took possession and demolished its defences.

The capture of the forts left the American vessels defenceless, and the crews accordingly abandoned and burnt them. The impediments to navigation sunk in the river were next removed in part, by the British, and with difficulty, and the passage was opened for transports and provisions from the fleet, to reach the army in Philadelphia.

The troops of Washington, reinforced by divisions from the victorious army of the North, now amounted to about twelve thousand regulars, and three thousand militia. With these he was encamped at White Marsh, whence numerous attempts were made by Howe to draw him out, for the purpose of giving battle, but in vain. He could not be induced to risk his army in a general battle, except on his own position, and Howe, foiled in his maneuvres, returned to Philadelphia to winter-quarters.

Washington, as soon as he became satisfied that the British had desisted from offensive operations, also went into winter-quarters at Valley Forge, about sixteen miles from the city.

Thus terminated the second campaign of Great Britain against her revolted colonies. Two powerful armies, commanded by experienced generals, and abundantly provided with every thing, had succeeded in nothing but capturing the cities of Philadelphia and New York, and ravaging the property of many private individuals throughout the country# One army had been lost totally, and the other, though master of the capital of the country, was in effect straitened within very narrow limits, and exercised no power over the people. The country was not only unsubdued, but unterrified, and more sanguine of their ability to maintain their Independence, and warmed with sterner and more unanimous determinations to yield nothing to the invader. Besides their own higher hopes and confidence in themselves, supported by the issue of the two years' battles, they had a near prospect of foreign assistance to sustain their claims.

The sufferings of the memorable winter at Valley Forge, sufferings which tried the constancy and exhibited in a non ble light the heroic patience and patriotism of the soldiery, of the Revolution, form the next subject in the order time in the military history of the war.

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »