Category Archives: Military

Item of the Day: Sir Henry Clinton’s Observations on the Answer of Cornwallis (1783)

Full Title: Observations on Some Parts of the Answer of Earl Cornwallis to Sir Henry Clinton’s Narrative. By Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. To which is added An Appendix; Containing Extracts of Letters and Other Papers, to which reference is necessary. London: Printed for J. Debrett, (Successor to Mr. Almon,) opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXXIII. [1783]

 

WHEN I published a Narrative of my conduct during the period of my command in North America, which comprehends the campaign of 1781, I was in hopes I had said every thing that was requisite to explain the motives of my own actions, and to convince every unprejudiced person, that certain positions respecting them, advanced in Lord Cornwallis’s letter to me of the 20th of October, had no foundation. But it gives me extreme concern to observe, that his Lordship’s seeming to avow nearly the same sentiments in his Introduction to a late publication, styled, an Answer to that Narrative, lays me under the necessity of troubling the public again upon a subject, which they are probably tired of; and I sincerely wished to have done with. I hope, therefore, it may not be judged improper to request their attention to the following Observations on some of the opinions and assertions therein stated. Which (to be as concise as possible) I shall take according to the order in which they occur; — adding only, in an Appendix, the copies of such extracts from my correspondence, and other papers, as appear necessary.

I find upon enquiry that the four letters were omitted to be sent to the Secretary of State, which Lord Cornwallis mentions to have been wanting when the papers relating to this business were laid before the House of Lords. But the reasons for his Lordship’s march from Cross-creek to Wilmington, and from thence into Virginia (stated in the first of them) had been before given in his letters of the 23d and 24th of April, to the Secretary of State, General Phillips, and myself; and these stand the first of those letters from his Lordship’s correspondence, read before the House of Lords; the other three letters had been inserted in a pamphlet containing extracts from our correspondence, handed about at the time of the enquiry; and one of those pamphlets had been presented, by my order, to Lord Townshend, as a man of honour, and a friend to both parties, previous (I believe) to his noticing this omission to the House; and all the four missing letters were soon after published in the Parliamentary Register, along with those which had been read to the Lords. So that Lord Cornwallis could not well have sustained any injury by that omission. This, however, cannot be said to have been the case with mine of the 30th of November, and 2d of December to his Lordship, and of the 6th of December to his Lordship, and of the 6th of December to the American Minister; which were with-held, whilst Lord Cornwallis’s letters of the 20th of October and 2d of December (to which they were answers) were suffered to operate, for a long time, upon the minds of the public, to my prejudice. . . .

Every man of sensibility must lament that Lord Cornwallis has so indiscreetly availed himself of the liberty, he supposed was given him by the late change in American measures. For as my secret and most private letter to General Phillips, dated April 30, contained nothing necessary for this Lordship’s justification; the publishing it was highly impolite at least, not to say more—for reasons to obvious to need explanation. . . .

There remains little more necessary in reply to Lord Cornwallis’s introduction, but to observe, that the army and its followers in Virginia had been so increased in consequence of his Lordship’s move into that province; that it would have been impracticable to withdraw them by water (as his Lordship is pleased to suggest) for want of transports, even if the American minister had not directed me to support his Lordship there, and a pressing contingency had required it. And I must take the liberty to say, that the sending his Lordship’s corps back to South Carolina by land, would have been a most absurd idea for me to adopt after the opinions I had given of the risks it run in its former march by that route.

I shall now beg leave to conclude with an opinion, which I presume is deducible from the foregoing (I trust candid) review of circumstances. Which is, that Lord Cornwallis’s conduct and opinions, if they were not the immediate causes, may be adjudged to have at least contributed to bring on the fatal catastrophe which terminated the unfortunate campaign of 1781.

H. CLINTON

Harley -Street

April 3, 1783.

 [SEE ALSO: SIR HENRY CLINTON'S NARRATIVE and AN ANSWER TO SIR CLINTON'S NARRATIVE]

 

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Item of the Day: An Answer to the Narrative of Sir Henry Clinton (1783)

Full Title: An Answer to That Part of the Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. Which relates to the conduct of Lieutenant-General Earl Cornwallis, during the Campaign in North-America, in the Year 1781. By Earl Cornwallis. London: Printed for J. Debrett, (Successor to Mr. Almon,) opposite Burlington-House, Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXXIII. [1783]

 

THE

INTRODUCTION.

THE feelings, which dictate this publication, have originated from the contents of a Narrative, signed by Sir Henry Clinton, late Commander in Chief in America. In which Narrative events are attributed to my conduct during the campaign of 1781, which, I trust, it will appear, were by no means the unavoidable consequences of any part of it.

The materials, hitherto produced, cannot be deemed complete, either in form or substance. There were many deficiencies in the papers laid before the House of Lords; in particular, four letters, dated July 24th, August the 16th, 20th, and 22d, from me to Sir Henry Clinton, were wanting; one of which contained my reasons at large for undertaking the march into Virginia: This omission, as the Secretary of State informed the House, was owing to their not having been transmitted by the Commander in Chief. Four other letters (three of them dated the 2d, 27th, and 30th of August, and one the 14th, 15th, and 18th of October) from Sir Henry Clinton to me, were read to the Lords, according to the order of their dates; although they were only delivered to me, by the Secretary to the Commander in Chief, in the latter end of November, at New-York, above a month after my surrender; and consequently, their contents could not influence my conduct in any manner.

I own I am pefectly aware of the impropriety of publishing official letters for private reasons; but, since the measures with respect to America have now undergone a total change, I hope, I shall in some degree stand excused for producing the whole correspondence, in my possession, relative to the principal transactions of that campaign; as it is the most candid and complete mode, in my power, of submitting them to the public consideration.

The perusal of this Correspondence will, I think, render not only the military, but every other reader a competent judge of the propriety of my conduct, either when I acted under positive orders, pressing contingencies, or discretionary powers.

It is foreign to the present purpose, and I shall therefore not endeavour to enumerate the many difficulites, which I had to struggle with, in my command of the Southern district, previous to the march into North Carolina, in the beginning of the year 1781. This measure was thought expedient not only by me, but by the Commander in Chief: I was principally induced to decide in favour of its expediency from a clear conviction, that the men and treasures of Britain would be lavished in vain upon the American war, without the most active exertions of the troops allotted for service; and, that, while the enemy could draw their supplies from North Carolina and Virginia, the defence of the frontier of South Carolina, even against an inferior army, would be from its extent, the nature of the climate, and the dispostion of the inhabitants, utterly impracticable. The many untoward circumstances, which occurred during the four months succeeding the complete victory of Camden, had entirely confirmed me in this opinion. Our hopes of success, in offensive operations, were not founded only upon the efforts of the corps under my immediate command, which did not much exceed three thousand men; but principally, upon the most positive assurances, given by apparently credible deputies and emissaries, that, upon the appearance of a British army in North Carolina, a great body of the inhabitants were ready to join and co-operate with it, in endeavouring to restore his Majesty’s Government.

The disaster fo the 17th of January cannot be imputed to any defect in my conduct, as the detachment was certainly superior to the force against which it was sent, and put under the command of an officer of experience and tried abilities. This misfortune, however, did not appear irretrievable; and to have abandoned, without absolute necessity, the plan of the campaign, would have been ruinous and disgraceful: ruinous, by engaging us in a defensive system, the impracticability of which I have already stated; and disgraceful, because the reasons for the undertaking still existed in their full strength, the public faith was pledged to our friends in North Caroline, and I believed my remaing force to be superior to that under the command of General Greene. That this opinion was well founded, the precipitate retreat of that General from North Carolina, and our victory at Guildford, after his return with Virginian reinforcements, are sufficient proofs.

The unexpected failure of our friends rendered the victory of Guildford of little value. I know that it has been asserted or insinuated that they were not sufficiently tried upon this occasion: But can any dispassionate person believe, that I did not give every encouragement to people of all descriptions to join and assist us, when my own reputation, the safety of the army, and the interests of my country, were so deeply concerned in that junction and assistance? All inducements in my power were made use of without material effect; and every man in the army must have been convinced, that the accounts of our emissaries had greatly exaggerated the number of those who professed friendship for us, as they must have observed, that a very inconsiderable part of them could be prevailed upon to remain with us, or to exert themselves in any form whatever. . . .

 [SEE ALSO: SIR HENRY CLINTON'S NARRATIVE and SIR HENRY CLINTON'S RESPONSE TO CORNWALLIS' ANSWER]

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Item of the Day: Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton (1783)

Full Title: Narrative of Lieutenant-General Sir Henry Clinton, K.B. Relative to his Conduct during Part of his Command of the King’s Troops in North America; Particularly to that which respects the unfortunate Issue of the Campaign in 1781. With an Appendix, Containing Copies and Extracts of those Parts of his Correspondence with Lord George Germain, Earl Cornwallis, Rear Admiral Graves, &c. Which are referred to therein. London: Printed for J. Debrett (successor to Mr. Almon) opposite Burlington-house, Piccadilly, 1783.

 

Being conscious, that during my command in North America, my whole conduct was actuated by the most ardent zeal for the King’s service, and the interests of the public, I was exceedingly mortified, when I returned to England, after a service of seven years in that country, to find that erroneous opinions had gone forth respecting it; and that many persons had, in consequence, admitted impressions to my prejudice. Anxious, therefore, to explain what had been misinterpreted or misrepresented, (as indeed might well be expected, from the publication of Lord C.’s letter of the 20th of Ocotber, without being accompanied by my answer to it) I had proposed taking an opportunity, in the House of Commons, of saying a few words on such parts of my conduct as seemed not to be sufficiently understood: and I flatter myself I should have been able to make it appear, that I acted up to the utmost of my powers, from the beginning to the end of my command; and that none of the misfortunes of the very unfortunate campaign of 1781 can, with the smallest degree of justice, be imputed to me.

But I arrived here so late in the session, that I was advised to defer it; and it was judged that the gracious reception I had just met with from my Sovereign rendered an immediate explanation unnecessary. I was not, however, apprised to what degree the public prejudice had been excited against me else, I should probably have been induced to have taken an earlier opportunity of offering to Parliament what I have to say on the subject. But the late change in public affairs, furnishing so much more important matter for their deliberation, deprived me of the opportunity I thought I should have had: and, as by the present recess it is probable that I may not be able to execute my intentions before a late period, when perhaps peculiar circumstances might force me through delicacy to decline it, I beg leave to lay before the public the following plain Narrative, which will, I trust, remove prejudice and error.

I have much to regret that, when this business was discussed in the House of Lords last session of Parliament, the whole of my correspondence with the late American Minister, Lieutenant General Earl Cornwallis, and the Admirals commanding on the West-India and American stations, was not produced, or at least such parts thereof as, being necessary to explain my conduct, might have appeared consistently with state policy. Because the letters which compose that correspondence, being written to the moment as events happened, are certainly the most faithful records of my actions and intentions; and are consequently the clearest, fairest, and most unexceptionable testimonies I can adduce in their support. I hope, therefore, I shall stand exculpated from the necessity of the case, for any impropriety there may be in my annexing to this letter such of them as I may judge most requisite for that purpose. Three of them indeed, will, I presume, be found very material, (Appendix No. IX.) as they contain my answers and observations upon Lord Cornwallis’s letters of the 20th of October and 2d of December on the subject of the unfortunate conclusion of the last campaign in the Chesapeak; —which latter I am sorry to observe, were given to the public, while mine in answer were witheld from it; —I hope without design.

Although I never dared promise myself that any exertions of mine, with my very reduced force (nearly one-third less than that of my predecessor) could bring the war to a happy conclusion; yet I confess that the campaign of 1781 terminated very differently from what I once flattered myself it would; as may appear, by the subjoined extracts of lettes, written in the beginning of that year, and which were transmitted to the Minister. I was led, however, into these hopes, more by the apparent distresses of the enemy than any material success we had met with. . . .

 

NUMBER IX.

Copy of a Letter from Sir Henry Clinto to Earl Cornwallis, dated New York, 2d and 10th December, 1781

[This letter was not read in the House of Lords.]

My Lord,

As your Lordship is please, in your letter of this day, to revert to the circumstance of your quitting Williamsburg Neck and repassing the James River, so contrary to the intentions I wished to express in my letters of the 11th and 15th of June, and those referred to by them, and which I thought they would have clearly explained. Your Lordship will, I hope, forgive me, if I once more repeat that I am of opinion, if those letters had been properly understood by your Lordship, you would at least have hesitated before you adopted that measure. For I humbly presume it will appear, upon a reperusal of them, that it was my desire to recommend to your Lordship the taking a healthy defensive station, either at Williamsburg or York; and, after keeping what troops you might want for the ample defence of such a post, and sesultory movements by water, so send me such a proportion of the corps (mentioned in a list) as you could spare, taking them in the succession they are there placed. YOur Lordship, on the contrary understood these as conveying a positive order to send me three thousand men, (by which you say your force would have been reduced to about two thousand four hundred rank and file fit for duty; —having, it is presumed, above 1500 sick) and was pleased to tell me, in your anser, that you could not, consisten with my plans, make safe defensive posts at York and Gloucester, (both of which would be necessary for the protection of shipping): and that you should immediately repass James River, and take measures for complying with my requisition.

I own, my Lord, that my opinion of the obvious meaning of the letters referred to, continues still the same; and I am exceedingly sorry to find, by the letter you have now honoured me with, that it differs so widely from your Lordship’s. It is plain, however, we cannot both be in the right. . . .

[SEE ALSO: AN ANSWER TO THE NARRATIVE OF SIR HENRY CLINTON and SIR HENRY CLINTON'S RESPONSE TO CORNWALLIS' ANSWER]

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Item of the Day: Ramsay’s History of the American Revolution (1791)

Full Title: The History of the American Revolution. By David Ramsay, M.D. of South Carolina. Vol. II. London: Soldy by J. Johnson and J. Stockdale, M.DCC.XCI. [1791]

 

APPENDIX, NO. III.

Of the treatment of prisoners, and of the distresses of the Inhabitants.

 MANY circumstances concurred to make the American war particurlary calamitous. It was originally a civil war in the estimation of both parties, and a rebellion to its termination, in the opinion of one of them. Unfortunately for mankind doubts have been entertained of the obligatory force of the law of nations in such cases. The refinement of modern ages has stripped war of half of its horrors, but the systems of some illiberal men have tended to re-produce the barbarism of Gothic times, by withholding the benefits of that refinement from those who are effecting revolutions. An enlightened philanthropist embraces the whole human race and enquires, not whether an object of distress is or is not an unit of an acknowledged nation. It is sufficient that he is a child of the same common parent, and capable of happiness or misery. The prevalence of such a temper would have greatly lessened the calamities of the American war, but while from contracted policy, unfortunate captives were considered as not entitled to the treatment of prisoners, they were often doomed without being guilty, to suffer the punishment due to criminals.

The first American prisoners were taken on the 17th of June 1775. These were thrown indiscriminately into the jail at Boston, without any consideration of their rank. Gen. Washington wrote to Gen. Gage on this subject, to which the latter answered by asserting that the prisoners had been treated with care and kindess, though indiscriminately “as he acknowledged no rank that was not derived from the King.” To which Gen. Washington replied “You affect, Sir, to despise all rank not derived from the same source with your own; I cannot conceive one mroe honorable, than that which flows from the uncorrupted choice of a brave and free people, the purest sourse and original fountal of all power.”

Gen. Carlton during his command conducted towards the American prisoners with a degree of humanity, that reflected the greatest honor on his character. Before he commenced his operations on the lakes in 1776, he shipped off those of them who were officers for New-Enlgand, but previously supplied them with every thing requisite to make their voyage comfortable. The other prisoners, amounting to 800, were sent home by a flag after exacting an oath from them, not to serve during the war unless exchanged. Many of these being almost naked were comfortably cloathed by his orders, previously to their being sent off.

The capture of Gen. Lee proved calamitous to several individuals. Six Hessian field officers were offered in exchange for him but this was refused. It was said by the British, that Lee was a deserter from their service, and as such could not expect the indulgences usually given to prisoners of war. The Americans replied, that as he resigned his British commission previously to his acepting one from the Americans, he could not be considered as a deserter. He was nevetheless confined, watched, and guarded. Congress thereupon resolved, that Gen. Washington be directed to inform Gen. Howe, that should the proffered exchange of Gen. Lee for six field officers not be accepted, and the treatment of him as above mentioned be continued, the principles of retaliation should occasion five of the said Hessian field officers, together with Lt. Col. Archibald Campbell to be detained, in order that the said treatment which Gen. Lee received, should be exactly inflicted on their persons. The Campbell thus designated as the subject of retaliation, was a human man, and a meritorious officer, who had been captured by some of the Massachusett’s privateers near Boston, which, from the want of information, he was proceeding soon after the British had evacuated it. The above act of Congress was forwarded to Massachusetts with a request that they would detain Lt. Col. Compbell and keep him in safe custody till the further order of Congress. The council of Massachusett’s exceeded this request, and sent him to Concord jail, where he was lodged in a gloomy dungeon of twelve or thirteen feet square. The attendance of a single servant on his person was denied him, and every visit from a friend refused.

The prisoners captured by Sir William Howe in 1776, amounted to many hundreds. The officers were admitted to parole, and has some waste houses assigned to them as quarters; but the privates were shut up in the coldest season of the year in churches, sugar houses, and such like the open buildings. The severity of the weather, and the rigor of their treatment, occasioned the death of many hundreds of these unfortunate men. The filth of the places of their confinement, in consequence of fluxes which prevailed among them, was both offensive and dangerous. Seven dead bodies have been seen in one building, at one time, and all lying in a situation shocking to humanity. The provisions served out to them were deficient in quantity, and of an unwholsome quality. These suffering prisoners were generally pressed to enter into the British service, but hundreds submitted to death, rather than procure a melioration of their circumstances by enlisting with the enemies of their country. After Gen. Washington’s successes at Trenton and Princeton, the American prisoners fared somewhat better. Those who survived were offered to be sent out for exchange, but some of them fell down dead in the streets, while attempting to walk to the vessels. Others were so emaciated that their appearance was horrible. A speedy death closed the scene with many.

The American board of war, after conferring with Mr. Boudinot the commissary-general of prisoners, and examining evidences produced by him, reported among other things, “That there were 900 privates and 300 officers of the American army, prisoners in the city of New-York, and about 500 privates and 50 officers prisoners in Philadelphia. That since the beginning of October all these prisoners, both officers and privates, had been confined in prison ships or the Provost: That from the best evidence the subject could admit of, the general allowance of prisoners, at most did not exceed four ounces of meat per day, and often so damaged as not to be eatable: That it had been a common practice with the British, on a prisoner’s being first captured, to keep him three, four or five days without a morsel of meat, and then to tempt him to enlist to save his life: That there were numerous instances of prisoners of war, perishing in all the agonies of hunger.”  . . .

 

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Item of the Day: Josiah Whitney’s Sermon Addressed to a Military Company (1800)

Full Title: A Sermon, Addressed to a Military Company belonging to the 13th Regiment of Infantry in the Army of the United States of America, under the Command of Captain Asa Copeland, at their Rendezvous in Brooklyn, On Lord’s-day, August 25, 1799. By Josiah Whitney, Pastor of the First Church of Brooklyn. Windham: Printed by John Byrne, 1800.

. . . Courage is an essential requisite in the soldier’s character. By all means the soldier should have it. Without it, a person is not worthy of the name of soldier. Should persons have all other martial qualifications, yet want this, they would be unfit for service.

“True valor is distinguishing excellence in a military character, without it, the soldier is one of the worst poltrons, he must unavoidably dishonor the arms he bears, and the profession he assumes. It is true valor we speak of; not a savage ferocity, not a brutal rage, not an insatiable cruelty—But a manly greatness, a sedate firmenss and resolution in the midst of danger, whereby a man is not insensible to danger, yet above the fear of it, not so confounded by the most threatening approach of it, as to lose the possession of himself and the command of his understanding, but is capable of recollection, of judging what becomes a person in his station to do, and has the presence of mind to exert all his abilities in doing whatsoever can justly be expected from him.”

Courage is not equally imparted to all, by the author of our beings. To some he gives a greater share of it, than to others. The natural make of some is bold and daring, they are never more in their element than when passing through great dangers. Such persons are some times raised up, and used as instruments of bringing to pass some great things in the world, which infinite wisdom determines should take place. Others, again, whose natural courage is not so great, may by reason’s aid, surmount unmanly fears, and by being accustomed to dangers, may acquire such measures of fortitude as to act their part well, in hazardous daring enterprizes, and be blessings to their country. The soldier’s calling, for instance, is a hazardous one, and they who enter upon it, are to resolve to venture their lives for the defence and preservation of their country, their friends, their relatives, their liberties, &c. Therefore, they are never to forget this, but stand prepared to obey the call of GOD and their country, whether it be to life or death. “The soldier’s life is unfit for one that dare not die. A coward is one of the most pernicious murderers: he verifies Christ’s saying in another sense—He that saveth his life shall lose it. While men undauntedly stand in their lot, it is usually but few that die, because they quickly daunt the enemy and keep him on the defensive part; but when once they rout and run away, they are slain on heaps and fall like leaves in windy autumn. Every coward who pursueth them, is imboldened by their fear, and dares to run them through or shoot them behind, who durst not so near have looked them in the face, and maketh it his sport to kill a fugitive, or one who layeth down his weapons, who would fly himself from a daring presence. Cowardly fear betrayeth the cause of your country, it betraeth the lives of your fellow-soldiers; the running of a few affrighted dastards, lets in ruin upon all the rest—it casteth away your own lives which you think to save. If you will be soldiers, resolve to conquer or die. It is not so much skill or strength that conquereth, as boldness. It is fear that loseth the day, and fearlessness that winneth it. The army which standeth to it, getteth the victory, who they fight never so weakly, for if you will not run, the enemy will. And if the lives of a few be lost by courage, it usually saveth the lives of many. If the cause be not worth your lives, you should not meddle with it. If it is, you should chuse rather to sacrifice the, than your country.” The man of good courage, is prepared to bear up against all the hardships of the warmest service with an unbroken erect mind, when the casue of GOD and his people, shall press him into their service. The intrepid spirit, rested on the brave Nehmiah, when he exclaimed—Should such a man as I, flee? This spirit, inspired that brave commander, who, when deserted by his army in the heat of battle, cried out to them saying: “Go tell the living, that I die fighting, while I go and tell the dead, that you live flying.” Are the preceeding observations just? We hence learn that courage is necessary in men of military character. No wonder then, that Israel’s brave commander, thus said to his army. “Be of good courage.” And no wonder that he further said, let us play the men. Q.D. Let us do that on this great, trying occasion, which MEN, reasonable creatures ought to do. In these words, there is an implication, that he himself was resolved to do that, which he called them to do—either enter into battle, or so post himself, as to direct and guide them to victory. We have no reason to suspect, but that he would readily have done the former, if the case had required it. Every good general chuses rather to sacrifice his life in battle, than his country and honor. When existing circumstances, call to a most dangerous post, he readily exposes his own person. And so will all other good military characters in places below him, when called to dangerous posts.

In these words, let us play the men, we discern civility and decency. Though the army were under this general’s absolute command, yet he addressed them not as a pack of slaves and poltrons, nor in profane language, as too many have, to the shame of humanity; but as men, his fellow creatures, whom he respected, and who had a right to civil, human treatment. Such treatment conciliates esteem, and leads to obedience from a principle of love, which is a nobler incentive to action, than fear. Playing the men, imports doing bravely and valiantly. The sacred historian, in another place narrating this speech, thus varies the phraseology, let us behave ourselves valiantly. Playing the men, and behaving valiantly, are nearly, or quite synonymous terms. To play the men in battle, none can, unless they behave valiantly. —I proceed, . . .

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Item of the Day: Appendix to the Canada Papers (c.1779)

Full Title: Appendix to the Canada Papers, Relating principally to the Convention Army after its Arrival in the Neighbourhood of Boston, in the Years 1777 and 1778. [Caption Title]

Philadelphia, 8th Nov. 1777.

Dear Sir,

By Lieutenant Vellancy, who arrived here on the 31st of October with your dispatches from Albany, I received with infinite concern the particular account of your misfortune.

The loss of your services with the services of General Phillips in this country, I exceedingly regret, and since the fortune of war has thrown you both out of that line, I shall request the Admiral to send a frigate for you, and necessary transports for the conveyance of the troops, as soon as they can be got ready and victualled: but as there is little prospect of light transports being able to get round to Boston at this late season of the year, it is thought most adviseable to send them with the frigate to Rhode Island, from whence you will be advised of their arrival, and I hope, on the above consideration, you will get permission to embark from Newport or some convenient port in the sound; otherwise it will be impossible for the troops to be embarked before the spring.

With the most perfect respect,

I have the honour to be,

Dear Sir,

Your most obedient

And most humble servant,

W. Howe.

Lieut. Gen. Burgoyne, at Boston.

________________

Philadelphia, 14th November, 1777.

SIR,

The season of the year not permitting the transports to proceed to Boston, they are dispatched to Rhode Island, at which place I flatter myself you will obtain permission to embark with your troops, as the spirit of the Convention will not be infringed in the smallest degree by their embarking at that port instead of Boston; and under these circumstances I am hopeful you will readily prevail in your application. But should it be refused, I can by no means object to your returning to Europe, leaving your troops under the direction of Major General Phillips, with orders for the foreign troops to prceed from thence to Plymouth, and the British to Portsmouth in Great Britain, with all convenient dispatch after the arrival of the transports. And if you should not obtain permission to go to Rhode Island, where you will find a frigate to receive you, by sending a letter to Sir Peter Parker, commanding his Majesty’s ships at that place, the frigate will be sent round to Boston.

With the most perfect respect,

I have the hnour to be,

SIR,

Your most obedient servant,

W. Howe.

Lieut. Gen. Burgoyne, at Boston.

_________________

State of Massachuset’s Bay.

Head Quarters, Boston, Nov. 8th, 1777.

Major General Heath commanding the Eastern department being disposed to treat Lieutenant General Burgoyne and his officers with politeness and generosity, and the soldiery with humanity and care, expects the utmost attention of General Burgoyne and his officers to cultivate and observe strict order and discipline among the British and Foreign troops, especially in the following particulars, which are laid down as standing orders, viz.

1st, That if any officer shall exceed the limits of his parole, it being a forfeiture of his honour, he is to be immediately confined within the limits assigned for private men, or if the General shall think proper, on board the guardship.

2d, All officers under the rank of Field Officers are to repair to their quarters, and not to absent them after nine o’clock in the evening.

3rd, As the legislature of this State, in order to accommodate the Officers and to prevent imposition, have appointed commissaries to supply the officers and soldiers with various sorts of provisions brought to Boston market, which are to be sold to them at the same prices as were given for them, and care has been also taken that the officers should be supplied with liquors at the market price, until they can be procured by themselves from the town of Newport on the island of Rhode Island, or such other place as may be fixed upon for that purpose; no officer or soldier is to purchase any article whatever either by himself or others, except of the commissaries and grand sutler, who are appointed as aforesaid. But in case the Council or General Assembly shall think proper to discontinue the supplying the officers and soldiers in the manner above-mentioned, or shall think fit to make any alterations in the mode of supplying them, this article to be void as far as their order may extend.

4th, The officers will carefully avoid disputes with and every kind of insult or abuse to the inhabitants; should they receive any they are to enter regular complaints.

5th, The servants belonging to the officers who are on parole are not to stroll from their master’s quarters; they may be sent to the commissaries or to the grand sutler, or ride to wait on their masters when they shall think proper to ride out, if they shall be found otherwise, they will be taken up and confined.

J. Keith, D.A.G.

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Item of the Day: Botta’s History of the War of Independence (1834)

Full Title:

History of the War of Independence of the United States of America.  By Charles [Carlo Giuseppe Gugliehmo] Botta.  Sixth Edition, in two volumes, revised and corrected.  Vol. I. Translated from the Italian, by George Alexander Otis, Esq.   New Haven: Published and Printed by Nathan Whiting.  1834.

Book V.  1775.

[...] In New Jersey, at the news of the affair at Lexington, the people took possession of the provincial treasure; and a part of it was destined to pay the troops which were levied at the same time in the province.

At Baltimore, in Maryland, the inhabitants laid a strong hand upon all the military stores that were found in the public magazines; and among other arms, fifteen hundred muskets thus fell into their power.  A decree was published, inderdicting all transportation of commodities to the islands where fisheries were carried on, as also to the British army and fleet stationed at Boston.

The inhabitants of Philadelphia took the same resolution, and appeared in all respects, equally disposed to defend the common cause.  The Quakers themselves, notwithstanding their pacific institutions, could not forbear to participate in the ardor with which their fellow-citizens flew to meet a new order of things.

When Virginia, this important colony, and particularly opposed to the pretensions of England, received the intelligence of the first hostilities, it was found in a state of extreme commotion, excited by a cause, which, though trivial in itself, in the present conjuncture became of serious importance.  The provincial congress, convened in the month of March, had recommended a levy of volunteers in each county, for the better defense of the country.  The governor, lord Dunmore, at the name of volunteers, became highly indignant; and conceived suspicions of some pernicious design.  Apprehending the inhabitants intended to take possession of a public magazine, in the city of Williamsburg, he caused all the powder in it to be removed, by night, and conveyed on board an armed vessel, at anchor in the river James.  The following morning, the citizens, on being apprised of the fact, were violently exasperated; they flew to arms, assembled in great numbers, and demonstrated a full determination to obtain restitution of the powder, either by fair means or force.  A serious affair was apprehended; but the municipal council interposed, and, repressing the tumult, dispatched a written request to the governor, entreating him to comply with the public desire.  They complained, with energy, of the injury received; and represented the dangers to which they should be exposed, in case of insurrection on the part of the blacks, whose dispositions, from various reports, they had too much reason to distrust.  The governor answered, that the powder had been removed, because he had heard of an insurrection in a neighboring county; that he had removed it in the night time to prevent any alarm; that he was much surprised to hear the people were under arms; and that he should not think it prudent to put powder into their hands in such a situation.  He assured them, however, that in case of a revolt of the negroes, it should be returned immediately.  Tranquility was re-established; but in the evening, an alarm was given, that the soldiers of the ship of war were approaching the city in arms; the people again also took up theirs, and passed the whole night in expectation of an attack.

The governor, not knowing, or unwilling to yield to the temper of the times, manifested an extreme irritation at these popular movements.  He suffered certain menaces to fall from his lips, which it would have been more prudent to suppress.  He intimated, that the royal standard would be erected; the blacks emancipated, and armed against their masters; a thing no less imprudent than barbarous, and contrary to every species of civilization; finally, he threatened the destruction of the city, and to vindicate, in every mode, his own honor, and that of the crown.  These threats excited a general fermentation throughout the colony, and even produced an absolute abhorrence toward the government.  Thus, incidents of slight importance, assisted by the harsh and haughty humors of the agents of England and America, contributed to accelerate the course of things toward that crisis, to which they tended already, but too strongly, of themselves.

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Filed under 1770's, 1830's, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, History, Military, New Jersey, Posted by Matthew Williams, Revolution, Slavery, United States

Item of the Day: In the House of Representatives, April 11, 1776

In the House of Representatives, April 11, 1776. [Massachusetts]

 RESOLVED, That the following Officers and Seamen be appointed for each of the Vessels now building by this Colony and the Pay per Month allowed them, agreeable to the Sums affixed viz.

Captain, Eight Pounds,

Lieutenant, Five Pounds eight Shillings,

Second-Lieutenant, Five Pounds,

Master, Four Pounds,

Mate, Three Pounds,

Boatswain, Three Pounds,

Boatswain’s Mate, Two Pounds four Shillings,

Steward, Two Pound eight Shillings,

Gunner, Two Pounds eight Shillings,

Gunner’s Mate, Two Pounds four Shillings,

Carpenter, Three Pounds,

Carpenter’s Mate, Two Pounds four Shillings,

Surgeon, Seven Pounds,

Surgeon’s Mate, Four Pounds,

Quarter-Master, and Master at Arms, Two Pounds ten Shillings,

Pilot, Two Pounds eighteen Shillings,

Cook, Two Pounds four Shillings,

Drummer, Two Pounds, four Shillings,

Sixteen Boys, at tweny Shillings each,

Eighty Seamen and Marines, at forty Shillings each.

All of which Officers, Seamen and Marines, shall furnish themselves with a good effective Fire-Arm, cartouch-Box, Cutlass, and Blanket.

And be it further Resolved, That the Captains be appointed as soon as may be; which Captains, when chosen, shall return a List of Persons suitable for the other Officers, and shall proceed to inlist the Number of Seamen, Marines and Boys proposed. And for further Encouragement to said Officers, Seamen and Marines; –It is Resolved, That they shall be entitled to one Third Part of the Proceeds of all Captures that shall be by them made, and finally condemned, to be distributed in such a Manner as this Court shall hereafter determine. And the said Vessels shall be armed and mounted with at least twelve Carriage Guns, all of one Size, viz. Six Pounders and with a proper Number of Swivels and Cohorns: And the honorable Council are hereby desired to commission them to cruise against all British Property, agreeable to the late Resolves of the honorable Continental Congress.

Resolved, That for further Encouragement to Seamen to inlist into the Colony Sea-Service, one Month’s advance Wages be paid to the said Seamen, at the Time of their passing Muster; and also that their Wages be paid at the End of every three Months, or as soon afterwards as they shall arrive in some Port of this Colony.

Resolved, That the Officers of said Vessels be, and hereby are allowed to inlist Men out of the Companies raised for the Defence of the Sea-Coasts; and the Officers of said Companies are hereby directed to permit any of their Men to inlist into the Colony and Continental Sea-Service only, and to inlist others to suppply Vacancies occasioned thereby, as soon as may be.

Resolved, That the Committee appointed to build and fix out Armed Vessels, or any one of them, muster the Men raised for the Armed Vessels of this Colony, and pay them their advanced Wages, and receive out of the Treasury, a Sum agreeable to an Abstract to be returned for that Purpose.

Resolved, That such Men as shall be inlisted for the Sea-Service of this Colony, and are not able to furnish themselves with Arms, agreeable to a former Resolve of this Court, be furnished with the same by this Colony; and that twelve Shillings be deducted from the Wages of each Man so furnished.

Resolved, That the Uniform of the Officers be Green and White, and that they furnish themselves accordingly; and the Colours be a white Flag, with a green Pine Tree, and an Inscription, “APPEAL TO HEAVEN.”

Resolved, That the Commanders of said Vessels receive their Orders and Instructions from a Committee hereafter to be appointed by this Court, and to be conducted as secretly as possible.

Resolved, That the Rations or Provisions allowed to the Officers, be the same as is or shall be allowed to the Officers of the same Rank in the Continental Service.

Resolved, That the Committee to be appointed as aforesaid, furnish each of the Commanders of the Armed Vessels of this Colony, with Instructions to regulate their Conduct, agreeable to the Resolves of this Court.

Resolved, That one Third Part of the Monies (after the Charges of Condemnation are paid) arising from the Captures that may be made by any of the Armed Vessels fitted out on Account of this Colony, and shall be finally condemens in any Court of Justice erected for the Trial and Condemnation of such Captures, shall be distributed among the Officers, Seamen and Marines, . . .

Sent up for Concurrence.

JAMES WARREN, Speaker,

In Council April 27, 1776.

Read and concurr’d.

PEREZ MORTON, Dep. Sec’ry.

Consented to,

JAMES OTIS

WILLIAM SEVER

BENJAMIN GREENLEAF

WALTER SPOONER

CALEB CUSHING

BENJAMIN CHADBOURN

JOHN WHETCOMB

JAMES PRESCOTT

ELDAD TAYLOR

MICHAEL FARLEY

JOSEPH PALMER

SAMUEL HOLTEN

BENJAMIN WHITE

MOSES GILL

JEDEDIAH FOSTER

A true Copy. Attes. PEREZ MORTON, De. Sec”ry.

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Continental Army, History, Massachusetts, Military, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Privateers

Item of the Day: Letters to a Nobleman (1779)

Full Title: Letters to a Nobleman, on the Conduct of the War in the Middle Colonies. The Second Edition. London: Printed for J. Wilkie, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church-Yard, MDCCLXXIX. [1779]

LETTER I.

MY LORD,

THE pleasure I take in complying with your wishes, will not suffer me to postpone the performance of a promise I made, when I last had the honour of conversing with your Lordship.  If I remember right, it was to communicate my sentiments of the strength and practicability of the Middle Colonies where the late military operations have been carried on, — of the disposition of the people, in general, in the revolted Colonies, — and of the conduct of the late war in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. These are matters which intimately concern the public welfare, and with which your Lordship, as a senator, and the whole nation, who have expended many millions in that war, ought to be perfectly acquainted. Of these I shall therefore treat, in the order pointed out by your Lordship, without any other restraint than that which is imposed by condor and truth.

That part of the Middle Colonies which has been the scene of the late military operations, cannot, with the least propriety, in the military sense of the words, be called uncommonly strong, and much less impracticable. These operations have been chiefly confined between the mountains and the sea-coast southward of New York. In that part of America, the hills, when compared with those in this country, are by no means high or difficult of access. And there are few of them which do not afford an easy ascent either on one side or the other. Very unlike this country, where numerous hedges and high dykes form many bulwarks, for a time, proof even against cannon; there, neither hedges nor dykes are to be found. The fences are made of posts fixed in the ground, at ten feet distance, and in general with four or five cross rails, from nine to fifteen inches asunder. The country, which is thick settled and populous, every farmer living on his own plantation, not in villages, is interspersed with intermediate woods, and large plantations, or open fields. The wood consists of large tall trees, growing at different and considerable distances, without any underwood, and are easily scoured with cannon or musquetry [sic]. This is a true and exact state of that part of the country of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the war has been carried on; and from this description, it may be easily determined how far it can be deemed strong or impracticable in respect to military operations.

But, my Lord, experience is the best instructor; and if we attend to it, we shall certainly obtain every necessary information. In this country, we have lately seen two armies, one meditating its conquest, the other its defence. We have seen the British army penetrating into its heart, in a circuit of near two hundred miles, from Long Island, by the White Plains, to Trenton, and from the Elk Ferry to Philadelphia, in defiance of the utmost efforts of an enemy perfectly acquainted with every advantageous spot of ground; and we have seen that army taking, with ease and little loss, every strong post possessed by the enemy, who have always fled at its approach. Surely a country where such operations have been performed with so little difficulty, cannot be deemed very strong or impracticable.

But the strength or impracticability of this country is lost in idea, when we compare it with the  sense of action in the last American war. That was in a country of thick woods, — full of vast mountains, high precipices, and strong defiles; yet an Amherst and a Wolfe led the British troops through it to conquest and to glory, against the utmost efforts of the French veterans. Though in strength it was equal to any of the countries in Europe, yet was it not so impracticable as to baffle the zeal of British Generals, who, unconnected with party, prized their own honour, and devoted their lives to the interest of their country and the glory of their Sovereign.

For my own part, I have no idea of any country being impracticable in respect to military operations. Nor, I believe, has any other person, who is acquainted with the history of war, or the conduct of great commanders. Did not an Hannibal and a Caesar cross the high mountains and strong defiles of the Alps? Have not Britons more than once victoriously traversed the strongest fortified countries of Germany, France, and Flanders? Is there a country in Europe which has not been pervaded by military skill and valour? No, my Lord, there is not. And I am confident I may adopt this proposition as true,  that every country, however strong, will afford mutual and alternate advantages to contending armies, while superior skill, force, and exertion alone, can ensure victory and success. Should an inferior enemy in his retreat take possession of a strong post, which it would be too great a risque to attack, military policy and experience will tell us, that his provsions my be cut off, — his army besieged or starved into a surrender, — or the other parts of the country be reduced, while he remains inactive in his post; and after that, he can no longer subsist. How then can a country in any military sense be deemed impracticable? To the Ancients, or to Britons till lately, such a sentiment was unknown. It is not to be found in the annals of military history. A British soldier should blush at finding a room for the thought in his heart, and much more at pronouncing it with his tongue. As the sentiment is as dangerous to military gallantry as it is novel, I trust that it has not made a deep impression on the minds of Britons. If it has, their honour will surely teach them to eradicate it. And were I to be arbitrary on the occasion, I would, for the sake of my country, erase the words strong and impracticable from every dictionary, lest it should be renewed to apologize for the military indolence and misconduct of men, who have sacrificed to party and faction their own honour, the glory of their Sovereign, and the dignity of the nation.

I have the honour to be,

My Lord,

Your Lordship’s most faithful

and obedient servant.

 

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Great Britain, History, Letters, Military, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Age of Louis XIV (1780)

Full Title: The Age of Louis XIV. To which is added, AN Abstract of the Age of Louis XV. Translated from the Last Geneva Edition of M. De Voltaire, with notes, critical and explanatory, by R. Griffith, Esq. Vol. II. London: Printed for Fielding and Walker, Paternoster-Row. 1780.

Chap. XVII. The memorable war for the succession of the Monarchy of Spain. Conduct of the Ministers and Generals till the year 1703.

To William III succeeded the Princess Anne, daughter to King James by the daughter of Counsellor Hyde, afterward Chancellor, and one of the principal [sic] men of the kingdom. She was married to the Prince of Denmark, who ranked but as the first subject of the realm. As soon as she came to the crown, she adopted all the measures of King William, though she had been at open variance with him during his life. These measures were those of the nation. In other kingdoms, a Prince obliges his people to enter implicitly into all his schemes; but in England a King must enter into those of his people.

The dispositions made by England and Holland for placing if possible, the Archduke Charles, son to the Emperor, on the throne of Spain, or at least to oppose the the establishment of the Bourbon family, merits, perhaps, the attention of all ages.

The Dutch on their part were to keep an army of one hundred and two thousand men in pay, either in garrison or in the field. This was much more than the whole Spanish monarchy could furnish at that time. A province of merchants, who, thirty years before, had been almost totally subdued in the space of two months, could now do more than the matters of Spain, Naples, Flanders, Peru, and Mexico. England promised to furnish forty thousand men, besides its fleets. It happens in most alliances, that, in the continuance of them, the parties concerned fall short of their stipulations; but England, on the contrary, furnished fifty thousand men, the second year instead of forty; and, towards the latter part of the war, kept in pay, on the frontiers of France, in Spain, Italy, Ireland, America, and on board her fleet, near two hundred thousand fighting men, soldiers and sailors, partly her own troops, partly those of her allies; an expence [sic] almost incredible to those who reflect, that England, properly so called, is not above one third so large as France, and has not one-half of the current coin; but which will appear probable in the eyes of those who know what commerce and credit can do. The English always bore the greatest share of the burthen [sic] in this alliance, while the Dutch insensibly lessened theirs: for, after all, the Republic of the States-General is only an illustrious trading company; whereas England is a fertile country, a commercial and a warlike nation.

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Filed under 1780's, Commerce, England, Europe, France, History, Military, Posted by Matthew Williams