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Nec vero hæ sine sorte datæ, sine judice, sedes. Virg.
Memoirs of the War in the Southern Department of the United
States. By Henry Lee, Lt. Col. Commandant of the parti. zan legion during the American war.
1 hip Quæque ipse miserrima vidi
Et quorum pars fui.VIROJL. 2 vols
. 8vo. Philadelphia, Bradford & Inskeep. New-York, Inskeep & Bradford, 1812.
for. The works which have been produced upon the history of the American revolutionary war have been sufficiently voluminous to afford room for a complete and minute account of every memorable event which relates to it, and many of their authors have had the best possible means of information on the subject upon which they have written. We have the statements of both of the contending parties, and they are in general given with such a degree of impartiality, that the truth may be discovered by comparing them.' Several histories of the war are incorporated in the histories of the British nation, as those of Adolphus, Macfarlane, Belsham, and Bisset. The two last in particular are tinctured deeply with party partialities, but are of value to the American reader, because they inform him of the parliamentary history connected with that of the war, which is at least as important, if not as interesting, as mere narratives of military movements. The Annual Register contains a condensed, but perhaps as judicious and faithful account of the events of the war, as is to be found, and is well worthy of being consulted, not only on this account, , but also for the many curious and valuable articles of intelligence, relating to American affairs, No. 1. Vol. III.
which are contained in its Chronicle, and the important state papers which it has preserved.
Other Englishmen have devoted their pages entirely to subjects relating to the American war. Stedman, who was personally conversant in many of the most important and interesting scenes which the war presented, and who served under Sir William Howe, Sir Henry Clinton, and Marquis Cornwallis, (we believe as commissary general,) has produced a large work, which contains the only separate and complete English history of the war. It is a work of good authority, although in some instances he has manifested a credulity which is unjust to the Americans.*
The present Lt. Gen. Tarleton, who was Lt. Colonel of the British legion in the American war, is the author of a quarto volume, which contains a relation of all the events in which he was himself concerned, and is called an “history of the campaigns of 1780 and 1781 in the southern provinces. More than half the volume is composed of public documents, letters of instruction, &c. some of which are worthy of preservation; but unfortunately it was for the interest of the author to misstate many events of importance in which he was engaged. Many of our countrymen are now living who can remember his character for barbarity and cruelty, and no one can read any history of the scenes in which he acted except his own, without feeling abhorrence at many of his deeds. He acquired a good share of reputation, without perhaps much military ability. The corps which he commanded was long the terror of the southern country, because the Americans themselves were sometimes destitute of cavalry, and from its facility of motion his legion was the most active part of the British army, and was often employed in partizan expeditions, where the great object was to. surprize. By exploits in this kind of warfare, he became confident in himself and formidable to others, but in the only action in which he was fairly met and opposed, he was completely defeated. In his book he is guilty of the most
See Lee, vol. i. p. 371. iu See the account of the slaughter of Col. Buford's troops. Marshall iv. 159. Lee i. 148.
* Battle of the Cowpens.
shameful misrepresentation of this affair, as well as of some others. Some strictures on his history were published by lieutenant Mackenzie, who was in the same service with himself, which are favorable neither to the integrity or military skill of lieutenant colonel Tarleton.
Four of the British generals, who held important commands in America, have also published either vindications of, or statements relative to their conduct of the war. Thé unfortunate Burgoyne produced an elaborate defence of his management of the expedition with which he was entrusted, and this was fol. lowed by a reply.
But it appears from the evidence which he has produced, that the failure of the enterprize is to be attributed to no deficiency of ability in its execution on his part, or to any great skill in his conqueror. Gates actually overwhelmed him by numbers after Burgoyne had gained several important ad. vantages. The remote causes of the event are to be found in the want of the cooperation of the other commanders, and especially in the errors in the plan of his operations as formed by the English cabinet, who, at the distance of three thousand miles, directed the motions of armies in a country of which they were extremely ignorant.
Sir William Howe, who, notwithstanding the triumphant Mischianza* with which he quitted his command, has left be
• A very splendid entertainment given at Philadelphia by the officers of his army to Sir William Howe upon his leaving America. It consisted, as the name imports, of a variety of exhibitions. The company were first placed in barges, elegantly, decorated, arranged in becoming order, and rowed for some time upon the river, with music, and amidst salutes from the vessels of war. Upon their landing they were conducted to an area where they witnessed a tilt and tournament, after the manner of ancient chivalry. The knights, splendidly habited, contended in honor of some of the ladies of the city, who were dressed in Turkish dresses. This being finished, the procession passed through two triumphal arches, erected in honor of general Howe, to a house superbly ornamented, where refresh. ments were received. A ball then followed, after which were fireworks, and at twelve o'clock a costly supper closed the whole entertainment. The entertainment was perhaps as magnificent, as was ever wit: nessed in this country, and discovered more taste and learning than is often to be found in an army. A minute account of it may be found in the Appendix to the Chronicle of the Annual Register, for 1778, pp. 26 formas 270.
hind him in this country only a memory disgraced by his dissi. pation, and his unmanly inaction, which is not redeemed by one considerable achievment, published some defences of his conduct. There was a reply to his publication, in which a refutation of many of his statements was attempted,* and there was also an answer by Mr. Galloway to some aspersions on his character which were contained in general Howe's pamphlet.
Lord Cornwallis was in the very first rank of those who conducted the war for the British government.
He did more towards the subjugation of the colonies than any other officer, and he was not only able and enterprizing in his military conduct, but estimable in his private character. But after he left the Carolinas, which had been the theatre of his glory, he appeared to have lost somewhat of his former spirit, to have been indecisive in his military enterprizes, and it he did not commit great mistakes, to have omitted many opportunities for obtaining great advantages over bis then weak enemy. Sir Henry Clinton does not appear to have exercised any control over his actions other than that of advice; yet after the surrender of Yorktown the Marquis implied in a letter, which sir Henry published, that in the measures, which had led to this unfortunate issue, his own opinion had been overruled. In a pamphlet, which bears most interesting marks of modesty and candor, Sir Henry Clinton completely invalidated these charges, and evinced that the selection of Yorktown, as a place for a permanent establishment, which was the particular subject of dispute, was made in compliance with what he deemed the wishes of the Marquis. The reply of lord Cornwallis to this narrative is without any asperity, and shows that several important letters of sir Henry Clinton were not received in time to be of service, and also that his measures, which certainly were not the best for his cause, were taken with the intention to subserve the plans which the commander in chief might adopt.
A valuable history of the revolution was written by Mr. Gordon, who during the war was a clergyman in Brooklyne, near Boston. After the contest was at end he went to England, where he published his work, which, although it was un
• By the author of “Letters to a nobleman."
favorably received by some, and although not recommended by any beauty of style, has the high merits of accuracy and impare tiality.
Annals of the events of the war are contained in the valuable work of Dr. Holmes, and also in the Collections of the Historical Society.* But the only histories which have been produced in America, which are of much importance, are those of Ramsay and Marshall. Dr. Ramsay, during the whole war, was in some public station, either in the army as a surgeon, the legislature of South Carolina, or the Congress of the United States, and thus had excellent means of information. His history of the revolution of South Carolina is valuable, not as a narrative of military transactions, but as containing interesting and important facts, which are evidence of the sufferings of the Americans of the army from want of provisions and want of pay—and of the people from the weakness of their own gova ernment, which could not protect them, and from the cruelty of the British, who were most oppressive where they had most power.
The public papers connected with his volumes add much to the value of the work. His general history of the revolution is well known, and has such peculiar merits as entitle it to the attention of those who wish to be well informed on the subject of which it treats.
It is great praise of the Life of Washington to say, that it is worthy of Judge Marshall. It has done honor to our country abroad. Still however it is not difficult to point out some defects in it.
His work is styled biographical, but is in fact historical; and the author, by assuming for it only the former modest character, which it does not in fact deserve, appears to have been less careful to perfect it in the latter. In the three volumes which contain the history of the war, we have an interesting and accurate detail of its events. We have a record of all those transactions, which, at the time, were obvious to the knowledge of all; and the correspondence of general Washing ton, which is given with much prodigality, affords information upon some of the more secret parts of our history. But we presume most of his readers have lamented its barrenness in
• Vol. ii,