Imágenes de páginas

wasbington's Reply to Scbuyler



up; the cattle in that direction to be brought away, and the forage destroyed. He had drawn off the garrison from Fort George, who left the buildings in flames. “Strengthened by that garrison, who are in good health," writes he, “and if the militia, who are here, or an equal number, can be prevailed on to stay, and the enemy give me a few days more, which I think they will be obliged to do, I shall not be apprehensive that they will be able to force the posts I am about to occupy."

Washington cheered on his faithful coadjutor. His reply to Schuyler (July 22d) was full of that confident hope, founded on sagacious forecast, with which he was prone to animate his generals in times of doubt and difficulty. "Though our affairs for some days past have worn a dark and gloomy aspect, I yet look forward to a fortunate and happy change. I trust General Burgoyne's army will meet sooner or later an effectual check, and, as I suggested before, that the success he has had will precipitate his ruin. From your accounts, he appears to be pursuing that line of conduct, which, of all others, is most favorable to us; I mean acting in detachment. This conduct will certainly give room for enterprise on our part, and expose his parties to great hazard. Could we be so happy as to cut one of them off, sup

[ocr errors]

posing it should not exceed four, five, or six hundred men, it would inspirit the people, and do away much of their present anxiety. In such an event they would lose sight of past misfortunes, and, urged at the same time by a regard to their own security, they would fly to arms and afford every aid in their power.”

While he thus suggested bold enterprises, he cautioned Schuyler not to repose too much confidence in the works he was projecting, so as to collect in them a large quantity of stores. “I begin to consider lines as a kind of trap,' writes he, “and not to answer the valuable purposes expected from them, unless they are in passes which cannot be avoided by the


In circulars addressed to the brigadier-generals of militia in the western parts of Massachusetts and Connecticut, he warned them that the evacuation of Ticonderoga had opened a door by which the enemy, unless vigorously opposed, might penetrate the northern part of the State of New York, and the western parts of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and, forming a junction with General Howe, cut off the communication between the Eastern and Northern States. " It cannot be supposed," adds he, “that the small number of continental troops assembled at Fort Edward, is alone

[ocr errors]

Wasbington's Orders


[ocr errors]

sufficient to check the progress of the enemy. To the militia, therefore, must we look for support in this time of trial ; and I trust that you will immediately upon receipt of this, if you have not done it already, march with at least one third of the militia under your command, and rendezvous at Saratoga, unless directed to some other place by General Schuyler or General Arnold."

Washington now ordered that all the vessels and river craft, not required at Albany, should be sent down to New Windsor and Fishkill, and kept in readiness ; for he knew not how soon the movements of General Howe might render it suddenly necessary to transport part of his forces up the Hudson.

Further letters from Schuyler urged the increasing exigencies of his situation. It was harvest time. The militia, impatient at being detained from their rural labors, were leaving him in great numbers. In a council of general officers, it had been thought advisable to give leave of absence to half, lest the whole should depart. He feared those who remained would do so but a few days. The

enemy were steadily employed cutting a road toward him from Skenesborough. From the number of horse they were reported to have, and to expect, they might intend to bring their pro


[merged small][ocr errors]

visions on horseback. If so, they would be able to move with expedition. In this position of affairs, he urged to be reinforced as speedily as possible.

Washington, in reply, informed him that he had ordered a further reinforcement of General Glover's brigade, which was all he could possibly furnish in his own exigencies. He trusted affairs with Schuyler would soon wear a more smiling aspect, that the Eastern States, who were so deeply concerned in the matter, would exert themselves, by effectual succor, to enable him to check the progress of the enemy, and repel a danger by which they were immediately threatened. From the information he had received, he supposed the force of the enemy to be little more than five thousand. “They seem," said he, “to be unprovided with wagons to transport the immense quantity of baggage and warlike apparatus, without which they cannot pretend to penetrate the country.

You mention their having a great number of horses, but they must nevertheless require a considerable number of wagons, as there are many things which cannot be transported on horses. They can never think of advancing without securing their rear, and the force with which they can act against you, will be greatly reduced by detachments popularity of General Lincoln


necessary for that purpose ; and as they have
to cut out their passage, and to remove the im-
pediments you have thrown in their way, be-
fore they can proceed, this circumstance, with
the encumbrance they must feel in their bag-
gage, stores, etc., will inevitably retard their
march, and give you leisure and opportunity
to prepare a good reception for them.
I have directed General Lincoln to repair to
you as speedily as the state of his health, which
is not very perfect, will permit; this gentleman
has always supported the character of a judi-
cious, brave, active officer, and he is exceed-
ingly popular in the State of Massachusetts, to
which he belongs ; he will have a degree of
influence over the militia which cannot fail of
being highly advantageous. I have intended
him more particularly for the command of the
militia, and I promise myself it will have a
powerful tendency to make them turn out
with more cheerfulness, and to inspire them
with perseverance to remain in the field,
and with fortitude and spirit to do their duty
while in it.” *

Washington highly approved of a measure suggested by Schuyler, of stationing a body of troops somewhere about the Hampshire Grants (Vermont), so as to be in the

* Schuyler's Letter Book.


« AnteriorContinuar »