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Enterprise against Sag barbor
late action, “in which he had one horse shot under him and another wounded.” But after all he remained at the bottom of the list, and the wound still rankled in his bosom.
The destructive expeditions against the American depots of military stores, were retaliated in kind by Colonel Meigs, a spirited officer, who had accompanied Arnold in his expedition through the wilderness against Quebec, and had caught something of his love for hardy exploit. Having received intelligence that the British commissaries had collected a great amount of grain, forage, and other supplies at Sag Harbor, a small port in the deep bay which forks the east end of Long Island, he crossed the Sound on the 23d of May from Guilford in Connecticut, with about one hundred and seventy men in whaleboats convoyed by two armed sloops : landed on the island near Southold ; carried the boats a distance of fifteen miles across the north fork of the bay, launched them into the latter, crossed it, landed within four miles of Sag Harbor, and before daybreak carried the place, which was guarded by a company of foot. A furious fire of round and grape shot was opened upon the Americans from an armed schooner, anchored about one hundred and fifty yards from shore ; and stout defense was made by the crews of a dozen
brigs and sloops lying at the wharf to take in freight; but Meigs succeeded in burning these vessels, destroying everything on shore, and carrying off ninety prisoners ; among whom were the officer of the company of foot, the commissaries, and the captains of most of the small vessels. With these he and his party recrossed the bay, transported their boats again across the fork of land, launched them on the Sound, and got safe back to Guilford, having achieved all this, and traversed about ninety miles of land and water, in twenty-five hours. Washington was so highly pleased with the spirit and success of this enterprise, that he publicly returned thanks to Colonel Meigs and the officers and men engaged in it. It could not fail, he said, greatly to distress the enemy in the important and essential article of forage. But it was the moral effect of the enterprise which gave it the most value. It is difficult, at the present day, sufficiently to appreciate the importance of partisan exploits of the kind, in the critical stage of the war of which vie are treating. They cheered the spirit of the people, depressed by overshadowing dangers and severe privations, and kept alive the military spark that was to kindle into the future flame.
Schuyler on the Point of Resigning-Committee of
Inquiry Report in his Favor-His Memorial to Congress Proves Satisfactory-Discussions Regarding the Northern Department-Gates Mistaken as to his Position-He Prompts his Friends in Congress-His Petulant Letter to Washington-Dignified Reply of the Latter-Position of Gates Defined-Schuyler Reinstated in Command of the Department-Gates Appears on the Floor of Congress—His Proceedings there.
HE time was at hand for the committee
of inquiry on General Schuyler's conduct to make their report to Congress,
and he awaited it with impatience. “I propose in a day or two to resign my commission," writes he to Washington on the 3d of May.
As soon as I have done it, I shall transmit to your Excellency my reasons for such a step."
Washington was grieved at receiving this intimation. He had ever found Schuyler a faithful coadjutor. He knew his peculiar fitness for the Northern department from his knowledge of the country and its people, his influence among its most important citizens, his experience in treating with the Indians, his fiery energy, his fertility in expedients, and his “sound military sense." But he knew also his sensitive nature, and the peculiar annoyances with which he had had to contend. On a former occasion he had prevented him from resigning, by an appeal to his patriotism; he no longer felt justified in interfering. “I am sorry," writes he, “that circumstances are such as to dispose you to a resignation ; but you are the best judge of the line of conduct most reconcilable to your duty, both in a public and personal view; and your own feelings must
; determine you in a matter of so delicate and interesting a nature."*
Affairs, however, were taking a more favorable turn. The committee of inquiry made a report which placed the character of Schuyler higher than ever as an able and active commander, and a zealous and disinterested patriot.
He made a memorial to Congress explaining away or apologizing for the expressions in his letter of the 4th of February, which had given
Schuyler's Letter Book.
offense to the House. His memorial was satisfactory; and he was officially informed that Congress now “entertained the same favorable sentiments concerning him, that they had entertained before the letter was received."
There were warm discussions in the House on the subject of the Northern department. Several of the most important of the New York delegates observed that General Gates misapprehended his position. He considered himself as holding the same command as that formerly held by General Schuyler. Such was not the intention of Congress in sending him to take command of the army at Ticonderoga. There had been a question between sending him to that post, or giving him the adjutancy general, and it had been decided for the former.
It would be nonsense, they observed, to give him command of the Northern department, and confine him to Ticonderoga and Mount Independence, where he could not have an extensive idea of the defense of the frontier of the Eastern States; but only of one spot, to which the enemy were not obliged to confine their operations, and, as it were, to knock their heads against a single rock. The affairs of the northeast, it was added, and of the State of New York in particular, were in a critical con