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stancy and heroism with which they were sustained. Without shoes, their march to Valley Forge might have been tracked by their bloody steps on the frozen ground. Destitute of tents, they felled trees and built themselves huts, to protect them from the inclemency of the weather. At times they were without food for days, and with no certain prospect of supply; depending for escape from the horrors of famine upon the chance returns of parties sent out to levy contributions by force upon the neighboring country. The scarcity of fuel, and even straw for beds, was so great, that hundreds slept on the bare earth, half clad, and without blankets, protecting themselves from freezing only by huddling together, to preserve the animal warmth of their bodies. Fevers and other diseases, the natural product of want, fatigue, and the filth generated by crowded and humid huts, were added to the other afflictions, and deepened them into horror. The hospitals were filled with patients that had sickened from want to die of neglect. The medical department was even more deficient than the other branches of the service; for the want of proper medicines, diet, and food, was aggravated by the coarse cupidity and brutal neg. lect of the medical attendants. The hospitals became terrors to the well, and the invalids preferred dying in the open air to perishing in an atmosphere of pestilence among the expiring and the unburied dead. Frightful indeed to the contemplation is the record of the sufferings at Valley Forge, and above all things glorious to the army and the cause in which they suffered, the memory of their patience, their patriotic resignation, their heroic firmness in endurance. The hundreds upon hundreds that perished unrepiningly in keeping the faith they had pledged to their country, victims to the false policy of the government, the mismanagement of their officers, and the necessities of an almost exhausted na. tion, are entitled even to a deeper sentiment of veneration and gratitude than their more fortunate fellows who died in the field of battle. Nothing of temporary excitement sustained them; no evanescent enthusiasm buoyed them up with sudden ardour; they struggled and died in silence, un. complaining and unknown to fame, invigorated solely by their love of liberty and the consciousness of performing a sacred duty.
Of the seventeen thousand men who went into camp on the 19th of December, the number of effective men in
February was only about five thousand. Nearly four thousand (3989) were unfit for duty, from nakedness.
General Washington, with the most indefatigable perseverance, labored to remedy these grievances and supply the most pressing wants. He exercised the powers given him by Congress in seizing forcibly upon the provisions within reach of the camp, on such terms as the law prescribed, to preserve the
from dissolution; and when that resource was exhausted, he made earnest and finally successful appeals to the New England States. Towards spring supplies were furnished with more regularity and in greater quantities, and as the season advanced, the condition of the army began to improve. The public affairs of the States began at this period to realize some of the benefits of the victory over Burgoyne, in determining the European rivals of Great Britain to take open part with the Americans in sustaining their independence. The secret aid given by the court of France, and the service of numerous distinguished Frenchmen in the American army, have already been related. The capture of Burgoyne, and the advance towards a stable form of government in the adoption of the articles of Confederation, satisfied the French king of the determination of the Americans, as well as their capacity, to resist the power of Great Britain, and of the expediency of affording them countenance and succor. During the
the conduct of France had afforded sufficient indications to the world of her desire to engage in 1 the war on a favorable opportunity. As the fortunes of the
Americans varied, her connivance at practices favorable to them, and hostile to British commerce, was more or less open, but always unequivocally inclining to the new States When pressed by the British ministry for explanations, she evaded the demand, or complied in form, without exacting obedience to the orders which, in order to save the appearance of neutrality, she was obliged to issue. In compliance with the remonstrance of Lord Stormont, an order was obtained for all American privateers and their prizes to quit the ports of the kingdom; but expedients for delay were allowed with such success, that not one of them obeyed the order. Instructions were privately given to the revenue-officers to afford countenance and protection to French subjects trading with America. These, and other more substantial acts of favor, in gifts, loans of money and arms, were notorious to the
British government during the year, but they were not in a situation to show resentment by a declaration of war, and they held out to the public the opinion that no danger of French hostility was to be apprehended.
The American Commissioners at the French court did not cease to press, with the strongest arguments and importu-nities, for a formal treaty of alliance, and an open recog. nition of the Independence of the United States. After alternately advancing and receding with the fluctuations of the fortune of war, the events of the autumn determined the French to accede to the requests of the Commissioners, and accordingly on the 19th of December, M. Gerard signified: to them, on behalf of the king, that “ France would not only acknowledge, but support with all her power, the Independence of the United States, and would conclude with them a treaty of amity and commerce.” He added, that no advantage would be taken of the distressed situation of the United States, but such terms would be made as if they were established in sovereignty and power. The negotiations which followed ended on the sixth of February, 1778, in the formal conclusion of a treaty of amity between the United States of America and His Most Christian Majesty Louis : XVI.; acknowledging the Independence of the States, and regulating the commercial intercourse between them; and shortly after, of a treaty of alliance, offensive and defensive, to take effect as soon as war should be declared by England against France. The war was made inevitable, not only by the recognition of American Independence, but by the establishment in the new treaties of principles in respect to neutral rights and blockades, opposed to those uniformly maintained by the British government. In anticipation of hostilities, it was stipulated that the two powers should assist each other with their whole strength; and would not lay lown arms without mutual consent, nor conclude peace until the Independence of the United States was acknowledged by treaty. It was agreed, that if the provinces of Great Britain on the Continent, or the Bermuda Islands, should be conquered, they should belong to the United States, and all the West India Islands to France. France guaranteed to the United States their liberty, sovereignty, and independence; and the United States guaranteed to France her present possessions in America, and such as might be obtained
by conquest during the war. A secret article reserved to Spain the right of becoming party to these “ Treaties.”
These treaties were signed by M. Gerard on the part of the French king, and Benjamin Franklin, Silas Deane, and Arthur Lee, on the part of the United States. They were formally communicated to the British government by the French ambassador, the Marquis de Noailles, on the 13th of March, and arrived in the United States on the 2d of May.
Before proceeding with the narrative of events in America after this propitious turn in the affairs of the States, it will be necessary to review the opposite effects of the campaign of 1777 on Great Britain, and the consequent measures of that government.
The first successes of Burgoyne had raised the spirits of the ministerial party to the highest pitch of exultation. The conquest of America was considered as certain, and the prophecies and denunciations with which the ministerial policy had been met by the opposition, were held up to ridicule. The news of the repulse at Bennington did not materially affect their sanguine calculations, and when the Parliament opened on the 20th of November, the king's speech was composed of confident annunciations of success, and promises of moderation towards “the deluded and unhappy multitude,” who were about to be subdued by his armies into a renewal of their allegiance. Addresses were moved in reply to the speech, full of panegyric, and professing unbounded confidence in the royal and ministerial wisdom. The minority still struggled, but in vain, to stay the course of violent measures, and procure the cessation of hostilities, and an amicable settlement of the disputes while their armies were victorious, and concession would be magnanimous. The Marquis of Granby and Lord John Cavendish in the House of Commous, and the Earl of Chatham in the House of Lords, spoke earnestly and ably, but vainly, in favor of peace. The warlike policy of the ministers was sustained by triumphant votes in both houses. A vehement attack was made by Lord Chatham, in the course of the debate, on the conduct of the Northern campaign, in the employment of the Indian allies. His denunciations of this barbarous practice were clothed in language of the most sublime eloquence and indignation. It was but feebly answered; the tyrant's plea of convenience, and the coward's plea of custom, being the only defences which the ministers
offered. The debate closed with an overwhelming majority against all change in the policy of government. The next day reversed the aspect of parties, and brought deep humiliation and disappointment to those who were, a few hours before, insolent with triumph and flushed with victories. The dispatches from America brought intelligence of the disasters of the Northern campaign, and the defeat and surrender of the army of Burgoyne. Lord North is reported to have shed tears of shame and mortification, and the ministerial advocates shrunk before the invectives and sarcasms of the opposition. Lord Chatham, holding up a paper to the House, told them " he had the king's speech in his hand, and a deep sense of the public calamity in his heart.” That speech, he said, "contained a most unfaithful picture of public affairs; it had a specious outside, was full of hopes, while every thing within was full o danger.” He went on to arraign the whole course of the administration, and moved for papers and orders relating to the campaign from Canada. His motions failed, but the ministry were not yet prepared to meet the adverse current with firmness, or by any settled system of policy. They limited themselves to devising measures for repairing the finances of the country, and filling up the losses in the army. Notwithstanding the universal consternation with which the intelligence of the defeats in America were received, the national spirit of the English prompted them to make liberal exertions to support public credit. Large voluntary contributions of men and money were made to the government; and after the recess of the holidays, Lord North came forward with a new and unex
pected proposition for conciliation. On the 17th
of February he introduced it in a speech, the tenor of which surprised a large portion of his own supporters, while it manifested to the opposition a total abandonment of the principles upon which the war had been commenced. All the pretensions to parliamentary supremacy in taxation, the appointment of officers, and the internal government of the Colonies, against which they had '16 taken up arms, were waived, and greater actual independence offered them than the boldest among them had claimed in their Colonial condition. After confessing the disappointment of all his expectations in the various measures he had proposed for raising revenue in America, and executing the laws there, he offered his scheme of reconciliation. Had