Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

the congressional history of the times, and regretted that we know so little of our legislative revolutionary heroes, and of the transactions of the cabinet, which were at least as important as those of the field. The work of Judge Marshall is also defective as an history of the United States, in the information it contains as to the system of government among the colonies under which the first hostilities took place, and by which their independence was declared, as to the nature of the confederation, which succeeded it, and as to their transactions with foreign powers.

We have as yet therefore no proper history of our revolution, still less of the United States: perhaps one is not yet to be expected. It may be that we are yet too near the scenes we wish depicted; that the distance is not yet such as is best for a philosophic view. We must perhaps wait until those who then lived shall be no more, and until the partialities, irritations, and party feelings of those days shall have entirely subsided, and then characters may be estimated fairly, and events portrayed without prejudice. We may then hope to see the causes of those great events which have taken place in our country more fully unfolded, and those uses made of facts for which they are alone worthy of being recorded. In the mean time we should endeavour to preserve and increase the records of the transactions of these periods, and should value each new fact relating to them, not only because it may add to our own amusement or knowledge, but from a regard to its future usefulness. There are probably many now living, whose number is rapidly diminishing, and whose memories are the only repositories of curious and important circumstances, relative to the political or military history of our revolution; and it is desirable to give perpetuity to this knowledge.

It was therefore with great pleasure that we received the work of general Lee. We knew that he had served in the war with much reputation, and by one who had been so actively engaged, we expected not only to be made better acquainted with facts already related in other works, but also to have been furnished with such new information, as a judicious eye-witness would obtain. The campaigns in the southern

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

any

states, in the principal part of which general Lee was employed, were as important, and in general far more interesting, than other The battles were numerous, the of the war. parts achievements of the partizan officers often highly brilliant, and the constant activity of the armies for long periods produced abundance of incident. It is true that the forces employed on either side were never numerous, but whether the contending armies consist of one thousand or of an hundred thousand men, all the talents of the commanders may be developed, as great courage may be displayed by the soldiers, and the consequences of events may be equally important to the hostile nations. The operations of war being spread over a vast continent, by the plan that was adopted, it was by skirmishes that the fate of America was to be decided.* And the transactions in the southern states were certainly very influential upon the event of the war. It was here that our enemy exerted himself as against our weakest part; here he obtained his greatest successes, and here as elsewhere, he was at last completely foiled. To this day we can perceive in those states the remains of that bitterness towards Great Britain, which was produced during the war by their sufferings, which were the greater, as they were much distracted by internal divisions, and as the power of the enemy was often evinced by cruelty and tyranny. Mr. Marshall gives the following character of the war in the south. "The sufferings occasioned by this ardent struggle for the southern states were not confined to the armies. The inhabitants of the country felt all the miseries which are inflicted by war in its most savage form. Being almost equally divided between the two contending parties, reciprocal injuries had gradually sharpened their resentments against each other, and had armed neighbour against neighbour, till it had become a war of extermination. As the parties alternately triumphed, opportunities were alternately given for the exercise of their vindictive passions. They derived additional virulence from the examples occasionally afforded by the commanders of the British forces."-"The disposition to retaliate, to the full extent of their power, if not to commit original injury, was

• Annual Register, 1781. p, 83,

equally strong in the opposite party.”* General Lee gives many facts confirming these remarks, and in speaking of the conduct of the Georgian militia on a particular occasion, he says, that they "were so exasperated by the cruelties mutually inflicted in the course of the war in this state, that they were disposed to have sacrificed every man taken, and with the greatest difficulty was this disposition now suppressed."+ In other parts of our country the miseries of war were severely felt, but here the people were treated not only as enemies, but as rebels.

But notwithstanding our prepossessions, we confess that we were disappointed upon reading the first hundred and fifty. pages of Gen. Lee's history. In these pages are contained a short recapitulation of the events of the war previous to the invasion of the south, and the narrative of events in that department during the command of generals Howe and Lincoln; but there is little new in them, and less minuteness throughout than is to be found in Marshall. We began to wish that general Lee had not commenced his history until that period when he himself became an eye-witness, or that he had adhered to his original plan, and published the life of general Greene. Even now, after he has redeemed our good opinion, and inclined us in every thing to think favorably of him, we wish that this part of his work was different from what it is. It is not however with

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

out any merit. There are some new particulars relative to an attack on the fort at Red Bank, on the Delaware river, by colonel Donnop, at the time the British were endeavouring to open the water communication between their army in Philadelphia, and their navy. There are also some ingenious remarks upon the character of sir William Howe, and an animated description of the battle at Breed's hill; to his repulse at which general Lee attributes the subsequent extreme caution of sir William.

* Vol. iv. pp. 537, 538.

..

+ Vol. i. p. 31.

[ocr errors]

† Vol. ii. p. 94.

§ Vol. i. p. 49.

N

[ocr errors]

1

¶. We were very glad to read the following note, p. 53, as it vindicates to an individual unjustly forgotten, a high honor that is his due. "The

In this part of the work is also the following anecdote, which may interest some of our readers on account of those to whom it relates-general Lee, our author, then a captain, and the illustrious Hamilton, who then had the rank of lieutenant colonel. It took place during the retreat of the American army after the battle of Brandywine Creek.

A

"Contiguous to the enemy's route lay some mills, stored with flour, for the use of the American army. Their destruction was deemed necessary by the commander in chief; and his aid-decamp, lieutenant colonel Hamilton, attended by captain Lee, with a small party of his troop of horse, were dispatched in front of the enemy, with the order of execution, The mill, or mills, stood on the bank of the Schuylkill. Approaching, you descend a long hill, leading to a bridge over the mill-race. On the summit of this hill two videts were posted; and soon after the party reached the mills, lieutenant colonel Hamilton took possession of a flatbottomed boat for the purpose of transporting himself and his comrades across the river, should the sudden approach of the enemy render such retreat necessary. In a little time this precaution manifested his sagacity; the fire of the videts announced the enemy's appearance. The dragoons were ordered instantly to embark. Of the small party, four with the lieutenant colonel jumped into the boat, the van of the enemy's horse in full view, pressing down the hill in pursuit of the two videts. Captain Lee, with the remaining two, took the decision to regain the bridge, rather than detain the boat.

"Hamilton was committed to the flood, struggling against a violent current, increased by the recent rains; while Lee put his safety on the speed and soundness of his horse,

"The attention of the enemy being engaged by Lee's push for honor conferred upon colonel Prescot, [who is mentioned in the text to have been the commander at the battle of Breed's hill], was only a promotion in the army soon after established; and this, the writer was informed by a gentleman residing in Boston who was well acquainted with colonel Prescot, consisted only in the grade of lieutenant colonel, in a regiment of infantry. Considering himself entitled to a regiment, the hero of Breed's hill would not accept a second station. Warren, who fell nobly supporting the action, was the favorite of the day, and has engrossed the fame due to Prescot Bunker's hill too has been considered as the field of battle, when it is well known that it was fought upon Breed's hill, the nearest of the two hills to Boston. No man reveres the character of Warren more than the writer;, and he considers himself not only, by his obedience to truth, doing justice to colonel Prescot, but performing an acceptable service to the memory of the illustrious Warren; who, being a really great man, would disdain to wear laurels not his own." pp. 53, 54, note. No. 1. Vol. III.

15

[ocr errors]

the bridge, delayed the attack upon the boat for a few minutes, and thus afforded to Hamilton a better chance of escape. The two videts preceded Lee as he reached the bridge; and himself with the four dragoons safely passed it, although the enemy's front section emptied their carbines and pistols at the distance of ten or twelve paces. Lee's apprehension for the safety of Hamilton continued to increase, as he heard vollies of carbines discharged upon the boat, which were returned by guns singly and occasionally. He trembled for the probable issue; and as soon as the pursuit ended, which did not long continue, he dispatched a dragoon to the commander in chief, describing with feelings of anxiety what had passed, and his sad presage. His letter was scarcely perused by Washington, before Hamilton himself appeared; and, ignorant of the contents of the paper in the general's hand, renewed his attention to the ill-boding separation, with the probability that his friend Lee had been cut off; inasmuch as instantly after he turned for the bridge, the British horse reached the mill, and commenced "their operations upon the boat.

"Washington with joy relieved his fears, by giving to his aidde-camp the captain's letter.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"Thus did fortune smile upon these two young soldiers, already united in friendship, which ceased only with life. Lieutenant colonel Hamilton escaped unhurt, but two of his four dragoons, with one of the boatmen, were wounded." pp. 19, 20, 21.

The following account of a most ingenious and courageous stratagem, which was practised by an American officer, is contained likewise in the same portion of the history.

"While the allied army was engaged before Savannah, colonel John White of the Georgia line, conceived and executed an extraordinary enterprise. Captain French, with a small party of the British regulars, was stationed on the Ogeechee river, about twenty five miles from Savannah. At the same place lay five British vessels, of which four were armed, the largest mounting fourteen guns. White, having with him only captain Etholm and three soldiers, kindled many fires, the illumination of which was discernible at the British station, exhibiting, by the manner of ranging them, the plan of a camp. To this stratagem he added another: he and his four comrades, imitating the manner of the staff, rode with haste in various directions, giving orders' in a loud voice. French became satisfied that a large body of the enemy were upon him; and, on being summoned by White, he surrendered his detachment, the crews of the five vessels, forty in number, with the vessels, and one hundred and thirty stand of arms.

"Colonel White having succeeded, pretended that he must

« PredošláPokračovať »