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The invading army, both officers and men, according to a British writer of the time, “were highly elated with their fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible. They regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt, and considered their own toils to be nearly at an end, and Albany already in their hands."
In England, too, according to the same author, the joy and exultation were extreme ; not
: only at court, but with all those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation and unconditional submission of the colonies.
“The loss in reputation was greater to the Americans,” adds he, “and capable of more fatal consequences, than that of ground, of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous and most degrading charges which had been made by their enemies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even in defense of what was dear to them, were now repeated and believed.
It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion that the war, in effect, was over, and that any further resistance would render the terms of their submission worse. Such," he concludes, “were some of the immediate effects of the loss of those grand keys of North America, Ticonderoga, and the lakes."*
* Hist. Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 283.
Capture of General Prescott-Proffered in Exchange
for Lee-Reinforcements to Schuyler-Arnold Sent to the North-Eastern Militia to Repair to Saratoga -Further Reinforcements-Generals Lincoln and Arnold Recommended for Particular ServiceWashington's Measures and Suggestions for the Northern Campaign—British Fleet Puts to SeaConjectures as to its Destination-A Feigned Letter -Appearance and Disappearance of the FleetOrders and Counter-Orders of Washington-Encamps at Germantown-Anxiety for the Security of the Highlands-George Clinton on Guard-Call on Connecticut.
SPIRITED exploit to the eastward was performed during the prevalence of adverse news from the North. Gen
eral Prescott had command of the British forces in Rhode Island. His harsh treatment of Colonel Ethan Allen, and his haughty and arrogant conduct on various occasions, had rendered him peculiarly odious to the Americans. Lieutenant-Colonel Barton, who was stationed with a force of Rhode Island militia on the mainland, received word that Prescott was quartered at a country house near the western shore of the island, about four miles from Newport, totally unconscious of danger, though in a very exposed situation. He determined, if possible, to surprise and capture him. Forty resolute men joined him in the enterprise. Embarking at night in two boats at Warwick Neck, they pulled quietly across the bay with muffled oars, undiscovered by the ships of war and guard-boats ; landed in silence; eluded the vigilance of the guard stationed near the house ; captured the sentry at the door, and surprised the general in his bed. His aide-de-camp leaped from the window, but was likewise taken. Colonel Barton returned with equal silence and address, and arrived safe at Warwick with his prisoners. A sword was voted to him by Congress, and he received a colonel's commission in the regular army.
Washington hailed the capture of Prescott as a peculiarly fortunate circumstance, furnishing him with an equivalent for General Lee. He accordingly wrote to Sir William Howe, proposing the exchange. “This proposition," writes he,“ being agreeable to the letter and
Wasbington's Anxious Erertions
spirit of the agreement subsisting between us, will, I hope, have your approbation. I am the more induced to expect it, as it will not only remove one ground of controversy between us, but in its consequences effect the exchanges of Lieutenant-Colonel Campbell and the Hessian officers, for a like number of ours of equal rank in your possession."
No immediate reply was received to this letter, Sir William Howe being at sea ; in the meantime Prescott remained in durance. “I would have him genteelly accommodated, but strongly guarded," writes Washington. “I would not admit him to parole, as General Howe has not thought proper to grant General Lee that indulgence.” *
Washington continued his anxious exertions to counteract the operations of the enemy ; forwarding artillery and ammunition to Schuyler, with all the camp furniture that could be spared from his own encampment and from Peekskill. A part of Nixon's brigade was all
. the reinforcement he could afford in his present situation. “To weaken this army more than is prudent,” writes he, “would perhaps bring
, destruction upon it, and I look upon the keeping it upon a respectable footing as the only
* Letter to Governor Trumbull. Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. i., Sparks.
means of preventing a junction of Howe's and Burgoyne's armies, which, if effected, may have the most fatal consequences.”
Schuyler had earnestly desired the assistance of an active officer well acquainted with the country. Washington sent him Arnold. “I need not,”writes he, “enlarge upon his wellknown activity, conduct, and bravery. The proofs he has given of all these have gained him the confidence of the public and of the army, the Eastern troops in particular.'
The question of rank, about which Arnold was so tenacious, was yet unsettled, and though, had his promotion been regular, he would have been superior in command to General St. Clair, he assured Washington that, on the present occasion, his claim should create no dispute.
Schuyler, in the meantime, aided by Kosciuszko the Pole, who was engineer in his department, had selected two positions on Moses Creek, four miles below Fort Edward; where the troops which had retreated from Ticonderoga, and part of the militia, were throwing
To impede the advance of the enemy, he had caused trees to be felled into Wood Creek, so as to render it unnavigable, and the roads between Fort Edward and Fort Anne to be broken