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state of the invaders, excepting at Brunswick and Amboy. Six months after, it was totally evacuated, (June 30, 1777.) All the time that Washington was thus retreating tion of and advancing, he was enforcing the lesson of his experiences upon the government. He could do comparatively little, as he repeatedly informed Congress, for want of no less essential an instrument than an army. The American forces, during the campaign, had consisted in part of continental, or regular, and in part of militia troops, all raised on different terms, that is, by different bounties and under different appointments, by the different states. What Washington wanted, what the country needed, was an army recruited, officered, equipped, and paid upon a national system. Nor was Congress insensible to the necessity. Before the declaration of independence, a board of war and of ordnance had been chosen from the members of Congress, to direct the military affairs of the nation. Afterwards, when the calamities of the autumn were weighing heavily, Congress ordered the formation of a continental army. But the wants, thus attempted to be supplied, continued. It was left entirely to the states to raise the troops and to appoint all but the general officers, while the pay and the term of enlistment proposed by Congress were wholly inadequate to the emergencies on which Washington insisted. "The measure was not commenced," wrote he to his brother, "till it was too late to be effected, and then in such a manner as to bid adieu to every hope of getting an army from which any services are to be expected.” "The unhappy policy of short enlistments," the need of “ greater encouragement" in pay, "the different states' nominating such officers as are not fit to be shoeblacks," the tendency of the states to fall back from regular troops upon the militia, "a destructive, expensive, and disorderly mob," all these complaints from the commander-in-chief show that there was still no organization of the army.
Alarmed by the disasters of the time, Congress resolved, "that General Washington shall be, and he is hereby, vested with full, ample, and complete powers to raise, officer, and equip an army. To provide for its necessities, he was authorized "to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may want for the use of the army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reasonable price for the same." He was also commissioned "to arrest and confine persons who refuse to take the continental currency, or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause," (December 27, 1776.) This commission of a dictatorship, the last resort of the ineffective Congress, and yet one of that body's wisest deeds, was to continue six months. It was afterwards renewed in much the same terms. But the powers were too dictatorial for such a man as Washington to exercise fully; nor did the partial use which he made of them effect the object of so great importance in his eyes. The war went on without any thing that could be called an actual army on the American side.
The want of an army sprang, to a great degree, from the want of a treasury. Congress, voting all sorts of appropriations, had no way of meeting them but by continued issues of paper money. These soon began to depreciate; the depreciation required larger amounts to be put forth; and then the larger amounts added to the depreciation. When the value of the bills had sunk very low, an attempt was made to restore the currency by recalling the old issues and sending out new ones; but these, too, depreciated fast. Then lotteries were resorted to, and loans, both at home and abroad. The states were called in, and taxes raised by them were substituted for the national bills. But the embarrassments of the finances were irreparable. Every year added to the debt and to the poverty of
In the midst of trials so various and so profound, of Lafay- there was a thrill of hope. It was caused by the ette arrival of a Frenchman, not yet twenty years old, who came bearing the sympathies of the old world to the new. "It was the last combat of liberty," wrote Lafayette, as he afterwards recalled his early inspirations. While he was hastening his departure from France, the news of the defeats in New York arrived, to throw the American cause into the shade, even in the eyes of the commissioners who had been sent to seek supplies in France. They would have dissuaded the young Frenchman from his projects. "We must be of good cheer," he replied; "it is in danger that I like best to share your fortunes." Escaping the pursuit of the government, who would have prevented a man of so high a rank as the Marquis de Lafayette from compromising them with the English by joining the Americans; tearing himself from a brilliant home, and a wife as young in years as he, Lafayette crossed the sea in his own vessel, and reached the coast of Carolina in safety. He hastened to Philadelphia to offer his services to Congress, which, more and more wont to be behindhand in its mission, gave him a cold welcome through the committee of foreign affairs. "The coldness was such," he wrote, 66 as to amount to a rejection; but without being disconcerted by the manner of the members, I begged them to return to the hall, and to read the following note: After the sacrifices which I have made, I have the right to demand two favors: one is to serve at my own expense, the other to commence as a volunteer.'" Congress was touched, and appointed the generous stranger a major-general, (July 31, 1777.) He found no hesitation in the welcome which he received from Washington on their first meeting. "Make my head quarters your home," was the warm and appreciative greeting from the commander-in-chief to the young major-general.
The army and the people imitated Washington's example, and gave their confidence to the noble Frenchman, with joy that their cause had attracted such a champion.
The spring of 1777 was marked only by some of Bur- predatory excursions from the British side into Connecticut, and from the American into Long Island. The summer brought about the evacuation of New Jersey, as has been mentioned. But the British retired only to strike harder elsewhere. A well-appointed army under General Burgoyne was already on its march from Canada to Lake Champlain and the Hudson. As this descended, it was the plan of the British in New York to ascend the Hudson, meeting the other army, and cutting off the communication between New England and her sister states. It was a promising scheme, and the first movements in it were successful. Burgoyne took Ticonderoga, and swept the adjacent country, menacing Northern New York on his right, and the Green Mountain region on his left. General St. Clair, who had evacuated Ticonderoga, could make no resistance; nor was his superior officer, General Schuyler, the commander of the northern army, in any position to check the advance of the enemy. But Schuyler bore up bravely; and the officers under him did their part. A British detachment against Bennington was defeated by John Stark and his New England militia, (August 16.) Fort Schuyler was defended by continental troops, the British retiring on the approach of reënforcements under Arnold, (August 22.) Just as these reverses had checked the advance of Burgoyne, the gallant Schuyler was ousted of his command to make room for General Gates, a very inferior man, if not a very inferior general. He, profiting by the preparations of his predecessor, met the British, and defeating them in two actions near Saratoga, (September 19, October 7,) compelled them to surrender. Nearly six
thousand troops laid down their arms; but more than twice that number were now collected on the American side, (October 16.)
While this triumph was won, losses were still the Hud- occurring elsewhere. The advance of the British son High from New York, after being strangely delayed, began with the capture of the forts which protected the Highlands, (October 5-6.) But on proceeding some way farther up the river, the enemy found it advisable to return to New York.
The main army of Great Britain was that which Philadel- Washington had to deal with in New Jersey and phia. the vicinity. "If General Howe can be kept at bay," wrote the commander-in-chief, "and prevented from effecting his principal purposes, the successes of General Burgoyne, whatever they may be, must be partial and temporary." After much uncertainty as to the intentions of the British general, he suddenly appeared in the Chesapeake, and landing, prepared to advance against Philadelphia, (August 25.) Washington immediately marched his entire army of about eleven thousand to stop the progress of the enemy. Notwithstanding the superior number about seventeen thousand opposed to him, Washington decided that battle must be given for the sake of Philadelphia. After various skirmishes, a general engagement took place by the Brandywine, resulting in the defeat of the Americans, (September 11.) But so little were they dispirited, that their commander decided upon immediately fighting a second battle, which was prevented only by a great storm. Washington then withdrew towards the interior, and Howe took possession of Philadelphia, (September 26.) Not yet willing to abandon the city, Washington attacked the main division of the British encamped at Germantown. At the very moment of victory, a panic