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of strength, which he could but ill spare from his own army.
Putnam was directed to have sloops ready to transport them up the Hudson, and Gates was informed of their being on the way, and about what time he might expect them, as well as two regiments from Peekskill, under Colonels Van Courtlandt and Livingston.
“With these reinforcements, besides the militia under General Lincoln," writes Washington to Gates, “ I am in hopes you will find yourself at least equal to stop the progress of Mr. Burgoyne, and, by cutting off his supplies of provisions, to render his situation very ineligible.” Washington was thus, in a manner, carrying on two games at once, with Howe on the seaboard and with Burgoyne on the upper waters of the Hudson, and endeavoring by skilful movements to give check to both. It was an arduous and complicated task, especially with his scanty and fluctuating means, and the wide extent of country and great distances over which he had to move his men.
His measures to throw a force in the rear of Burgoyne were now in a fair way of being carried into effect. Lincoln was at Bennington. Stark had joined him with a body of New Hampshire militia, and a corps of Massachusetts militia was arriving. “Such a force in
The Marquis Lafayette
his rear," observed Washington, “will oblige Burgoyne to leave such strong posts behind as must make his main body very weak, and extremely capable of being repulsed by the force we have in front.”
During his encampment in the neighborhood of Philadelphia, Washington was repeatedly at that city, making himself acquainted with the military capabilities of the place and its surrounding country, and directing the construction of fortifications on the river. In one of these visits he became acquainted with the young Marquis de Lafayette, who had recently arrived from France, in company with a number of French, Polish, and German officers, among whom was the Baron de Kalb. The marquis was not quite twenty years of age, yet had already been married nearly three years to a lady of rank and fortune. Full of the romance of liberty, he had torn himself from his youthful bride, turned his back upon the gayeties and splendors of a court, and in defiance of impediments and difficulties multiplied in his path, had made his way to America to join its hazardous fortunes.
He sent in his letters of recommendation to Mr. Lovell, Chairman of the Committee of Foreign Affairs; and applied the next day at the door of Congress to know his success. Mr.
Lovell came forth, and gave him but little encouragement; Congress, in fact, was embarrassed by the number of foreign applications, many without merit. Lafayette immediately sent in the following note: “After my sacrifices, I have the right to ask two favors; one is to serve at my own expense ; the other, to commence by serving as a volunteer."*
This simple appeal had its effect : it called attention to his peculiar case, and Congress resolved on the 31st of July, that in consideration of his zeal, his illustrious family and connections, he should have the rank of majorgeneral in the army of the United States.
It was at a public dinner, where a number of members of Congress were present, that Lafayette first saw Washington. He immediately knew him, he said, from the officers who surrounded him, by his commanding air and person. When the party was breaking up, Washington took him aside, complimented him in a gracious manner on his disinterested zeal and the generosity of his conduct, and invited him to make headquarters his home. “I cannot promise you the luxuries of a court," said he, “but as you have become an American soldier, you will, doubtless, accommodate yourself to the fare of an American army."
* Memoirs du Gen. Lafayette, tom. i., p. 19.
Intelligence about the Fleet
Many days had now elapsed without further tidings of the fleet. What had become of it? Had Howe gone against Charleston ? If so, the distance was too great to think of following him. Before the army, debilitated and wasted by a long march, under a summer sun, in an unhealthy climate, could reach there, he might accomplish every purpose he had in view, and re-embark his troops to turn his arms against Philadelphia, or any other point, without the army being at hand to oppose him.
What, under these uncertainties, was to be done? Remain inactive, in the remote probability of Howe's returning this way; or proceed to the Hudson with a view either to oppose Burgoyne, or make an attempt upon New York ? A successful stroke with respect to either, might make up for any losses sustained in the South. The latter was unanimously determined in a council of war, in which the Marquis Lafayette took part. As it was, however, a movement that might involve the most important consequences, Washington sent his aide-de-camp, Colonel Alexander Hamilton, with a letter to the President of Congress, requesting the opinion of that body. Congress approved the decision of the council, and the army was about to be put in march, when all these tormenting uncertainties were
brought to an end by intelligence that the fleet had actually entered the Chesapeake, and anchored at Swan Point, at least two hundred miles within the capes.
“By General Howe's coming so far up the Chesapeake," writes Washington, “he must mean to reach Philadelphia by that route, though to be sure it is a strange one.”
The mystery of these various appearances and vanishings, which had caused so much wonder and perplexity, is easily explained. Shortly before putting to sea with the ships of war, Howe had sent a number of transports, and a ship cut down as a floating battery, up the Hudson, which had induced Washington to despatch troops to the Highlands. After putting to sea, the fleet was a week in reaching the Capes of Delaware. When there, the commanders were deterred from entering the river by reports of measures taken to obstruct its navigation. It was then determined to make for Chesapeake Bay, and approach, in that way, as near as possible to Philadelphia. Contrary winds, however, kept them for a long time from getting into the bay.
Lafayette, in his memoirs, describes a review of Washington's army which he witnessed about this time. “Eleven thousand men, but tolerably armed, and still worse clad, pre