Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

dition. Much disaffection prevailed, and great clashing of interests. There was but one man capable of keeping all united against the common enemy, and he stood on the books as commander-in-chief of the Middle, or, as it was sometimes called, the Northern department. His presence was absolutely necessary in his home quarters for their immediate succor, but if he returned, he would be a general, without an army or a military chest; and why was he thus disgraced ?

The friends of Gates, on the other hand, who were chiefly delegates from New England, pronounced it an absurdity, that an officer holding such an important post as Ticonderoga, should be under the absolute orders of another one hundred miles distant, engaged in treaties with Indians, and busied in the duties of a provedore. The establishment of commands in departments was entirely wrong; there should be a commander-in-chief, and commanders of the different armies.

We gather these scanty particulars from a letter addressed to Gates by Mr. Lovell. The latter expresses himself with a proper spirit. I wish," writes he, some course could be taken which would suit you both. It is plain all the Northern army cannot be intended for the single garrison of Ticonderoga. Who then Gates in a petulant Mood

115

has the distribution of the members ? This must depend on one opinion, or there can be no decision in the defense of the Northern frontiers. It is an unhappy circumstance that such is the altercation at the opening of the campaign."

This letter produced an anxious reply : “Why," writes Gates," when the argument in support of General Schuyler's command was imposed upon Congress, did not you or somebody say, 'the second post upon this continent next campaign will be at or near Peekskill. There General Schuyler ought to go and command ; that will be the curb in the mouth of the New York tories, and the enemy's army. He will then be near the convention and in the centre of the colony, have a military chest, and all the insignia of office. This command in honor could not be refused, without owning there is something more alluring than command to General Schuyler, by fixing him at Albany. By urging this matter home you would have proved the man. He would have resigned all command, have accepted the government of New York, and been fixed to a station where he must do good, and which could not interfere with, or prevent any arrangement Congress have made, or may hereafter make. Unhappy State! That has but

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

one man in it who can fix the wavering minds of its inhabitants to the side of freedom ! How could you sit patiently, and, uncontradicted, suffer such impertinence to be crammed down your throats ? "

“Why is it nonsense,” pursues Gates, “to station the commanding general in the Northern department at Ticonderoga? Was it not the uniform practice of the royal army all last war? Nothing is more certain than that the

nemy must first possess that single rock before they can penetrate the country.

It is foolish in the extreme, to believe the enemy this year can form any attack from the northward but by Ticonderoga. Where, then, ought the commanding general to be posted ? Certainly at Ticonderoga. If General Schuyler is solely to possess all the power, all the intelligence, and that particular favorite, the military chest, and constantly reside at Albany, I cannot, with any peace of mind, serve at Ticonderoga."'*

This letter was despatched by private hand to Philadelphia.

While Gates was in this mood, his aide-decamp, Major Troup, reported an unsuccessful application to the commander-in-chief for tents.

* Letter to Jas. Lovell of Massachusetts. Gates's Papers, N. Y. Hist. Lib.

[ocr errors]

Gates in a petulant Mood

117

In the petulance of the moment, Gates addressed the following letter to Washington : “Major Troup, upon being disappointed in procuring tents at Fishkill, acquaints me that he went to headquarters to implore your Excellency's aid in that particular for the Northern army.

He says your Excellency told him you should want every tent upon

the continent for the armies to the southward, and that you did not see any occasion the Northern army could have for tents, for, being a fixed post, they might hut. Refusing this army what you have not in your power to bestow, is one thing," adds Gates, “but saying that this army has not the same necessities as the Southern armies, is another. I can assure your Excellency the service of the northward requires tents as much as any service I ever saw.'

However indignant Washington may have felt at the disrespectful tone of this letter, and the unwarrantable imputation of sectional partiality contained in it, he contented himself with a grave and measured rebuke. Can you suppose,” writes he, “if there had been an ample supply of tents for the whole army, that I should have hesitated one moment in complying with your demand ? I told Major Troup that on account of our loss at Danbury there

* Gates's Papers.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

would be a scarcity of tents; that our army would be a moving one, and that consequently nothing but tents would serve our turn; and

1 that, therefore, as there would be the greatest probability of your being stationary, you should endeavor to cover your troops with barracks and huts. Certainly this was not a refusal of tents, but a request that you should, in our contracted situation, make every shift to do without them, or at least with as few as possible.

“The Northern army is, and ever has been, as much the object of my care and attention as the one immediately under my command.

I will make particular inquiry of the quartermaster-general, concerning his prospect and expectation as to the article of tents, and if, as I said before, there appears a sufficiency for the whole army, you shall most willingly have your share. But, if there is not, surely that army whose movement is uncertain, must give up its claims for the present to that which must inevitably take the field the moment the weather will admit, and must continue in it the whole campaign." *

Notwithstanding this reply, Gates persisted in imputing sectional partiality to the commander-in-chief, and sought to impart the same idea to Congress. “Either I am exceed

* Washington's Writings, Sparks, iv., 427.

« AnteriorContinuar »