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Proclamation of the Brothers. Howe.
Disappointment of the People. washington's counter Proclamation.
generally, nor at all, to my knowledge, in the American army of the Revolution. At Morristown there was a partial inoculation, but it was not general there. At the Highlands, opposite West Point, it (inoculation) was general, and I assisted in it professionally." Vaccination was practiced by my father one year after the close of the war of the Revolution.” This is unquestionable authority. When the British entered New Jersey, the proclamation of the brothers Howe, offering a free pardon to all rebels who should lay down their arms, and full and ample protection of person and property to those who should take an oath of allegiance to the British crown, was freely circulated.” This proclamation was received by the people while the American army was flying before the Britons, and general despondency was crushing every hope for the success of the patriot cause. Its effect was, therefore, powerful and instantaneous, and hundreds, whose sympathies were with the Americans, timid and hopeless, accepted the protection upon the prescribed terms. They generally remained in their houses while the belligerent armies were in motion. But they soon found their hopes cruelly disappointed, and those who should have been their protectors became their worst oppressors. The Hessians, in particular, being entirely mercenary, and influenced by no feelings of sympathy, plundered, burned, and destroyed every thing that came in their way, without discriminating between friend and foe. The people of all parties were insulted and abused in their own houses, their dwellings were rifled, their women were oftentimes ravished by the brutal soldiers, and neither smiling infancy nor decrepit age possessed immunity from their outrages. The British soldiery sometimes participated in these crimes, and upon the British government properly rested the guilt, for the Hessians were its hired fighting machines, hired contrary to the solemn protests and earnest negative pleadings of the best friends of England in its national legislature. But these enormities proved favorable to the republican cause. Those who had received paper protections regarded Sir William Howe as a perjured tool of oppression, and the loyalty of vast numbers of the disaffected and lukewarm, that burned so brightly when recording their oaths of allegiance, was suddenly extinguished, and their sad hearts, touched by the persuasions of self-interest, felt a glow of interested patriotism. Washington January go took advantage of this state of feeling, and issued a counter proclamation, com1777. manding all persons who had received protections from the British commissioners to repair to head-quarters, or to some general officer of the army, to deliver up such protections, and take an oath of allegiance to the United States. It nevertheless granted full liberty to all such as preferred “the interests and protection of Great Britain to the freedom and happiness of their country, forthwith to withdraw themselves and their families within the enemy's lines.” The reasonable time of thirty days was allowed the inhabitants to comply with these requisitions, after which those who remained, and refused to give up their protections, were to be regarded and treated as adherents to the king and enemies of the United States.
* In his Military Journal, p. 250, Dr. Thacher, alluding to the inoculation in the Highlands, says, “All the soldiers, with the women and children, who have not had the small-pox, are now under inoculation....... Of five hundred who have been inoculated here, four only have died.” He mentions a fact of interest connected with the medical treatment of the patients. It was then customary to prepare the system for inoculation, by doses of calomel and jalap. An extract of butternut, made by boiling down the inner bark of the tree, was substituted, and found to be more efficacious and less dangerous than the mineral drug. Dr. Thacher considered it “a valuable acquisition to the materia medica.”
* Dr. Munson's father was an eminent physician, and was for many years the President of the Medical Society of Connecticut. He was a native of New Haven, graduated at Yale College in 1753, and, having been a tutor, he was a chaplain in the army on Long Island in 1775. He died at New Haven in 1826, aged nearly ninety-two years. He was a practicing physician seventy years. Being a man of piety, he often administered medicine to the mind, by kneeling at the bed-side of his patients and commending them to God in prayer.
* General Sir William Howe, the commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, and his brother Richard, Earl Howe, the admiral of the fleet on our coast, were appointed by Parliament commissioners to negotiate for peace with the American Congress, or to prosecute the war, as events might determine. They issued a circular letter to all the royal governors, and a proclamation to the people, offering pardon and protection. This commission will be considered hereafter.
Opposition to Washington's Policy. His Independence and Sagacity. Good Effect of his Proclamation.
Notwithstanding Washington had been vested by Congress with the power December on, of a military dictator, and the wisdom and equity of the proclamation were not 1776. questioned, the Legislature of New Jersey regarded it as an infringement upon state rights, that political stumbling-block in the progress of the Revolution; and even members of the Continental Congress censured the commander-in-chief. The former claimed that each state possessed the exclusive power of requiring such an oath, and the latter deemed the oath absurd when the states were not legally confederated, and such a thing as “United States” did not exist. But Washington, conscious of the necessity and wisdom of his course, did not heed these foolish murmurs. His plan worked admirably, and hundreds flocked to the proper officers to give up their British protections. The state was purged of the most inimical Tories, and the ranks of the army were so rapidly filled by volunteers and new recruits, that, when the campaign opened in June, his force, which numbered about eight thousand men when he left his head-quarters at Morristown, toward the close of May, for Middlebrook (a strong position, twelve miles from the British camp at New Brunswick), had swelled to fourteen thousand. He had previously written to the republican governors of the several states, urging them to adopt prompt and efficient co-operative measures, by raising recruits and filling up the broken regiments. He also wrote stirring appeals to Congress, but that body, acting under powers undefined, and swayed by the jealousies of the several states represented therein, was tardy and inefficient in its action. He was obliged, in his public declarations, to magnify the strength of his army, in order to encourage the desponding people and awe the enemy; and this justifiable deception made his appeals less ef. sective, for the necessity did not seem so great as represented. These were trying circumstances for the commander-in-chief, but his stout heart did not despond, and his hopeful spirit saw brighter prospects in the future.
Morristown was again the head-quarters of Washington during the winter of 1779–80. The campaigns for the season had been fruitless of very favorable results to either party. The war had been carried on chiefly at the extreme south, and in the vicinity of New York city, at the north. Toward the close of the year, Sir Henry Clinton, who had succeeded Sir William Howe in the chief command, sailed from New York for Charleston, and the main body of the American army went into winter quarters near Morristown. They re
* This view is from the forks of the road, directly in front of the mansion. The house is of brick, covered with planks, and painted white. The rooms are large and well finished, and it was a fine mansion for the times.
Winter Encampment at Morristown. The Life-guard and their Duties. Pulaski and his Cavalry. Effect of Alarum Guns
mained in tents until the 14th of February, when log huts were completed for their use. Strong detachments were stationed at West Point and other posts near the Hudson, and the American cavalry were cantoned in the western part of Connecticut. Washington, as we have noted, made his head-quarters at the residence of the widow of Colonel Jacob Ford, who had commanded a regiment of Morris county militia during Washington's retreat through New Jersey. It is situated nearly three fourths of a mile east of the village green, on the Newark and Morristown turnpike. The general and his suite occupied the whole of the large building, except two rooms on the eastern side of the main passage, which were reserved for Mrs. Ford and her family. The lower front room, on the left of the door, was his dining-room, and the apartment immediately over it was his sleeping-room while Mrs. Washington was at head-quarters. He had two log additions made to the house, one for a kitchen, on the east end, and the other, on the west end, was used as the offices of Washington, Hamilton, and Tilghman. In the meadow, a few rods southeast of the dwelling, about fifty log huts were erected for the accommodation of the life-guard, which consisted of two hundred and fifty men, under General William Colfax. In that meadow Count Pulaski exercised his legion of cavalry, and his dexterous movements were the wonder and emulation of the officers, many of whom were considerably injured in attempts to imitate his feats." The main body of the army, as we have noticed, was encamped upon the southern slope of Kimble's Mountain, beginning about two miles from head-quarters, and extending several miles westward. They were sufficiently near to be called into service instantly, if necessary. During the winter many false alarms occurred, which set the whole camp in motion. Sentinels were placed at intervals between the camp and head-quarters, and pickets were planted at distant points toward the Raritan and the Hudson, with intervening sentinels. Sometimes an alarm would begin by the firing of a gun at a remote point. This would be answered by discharges along the whole line of sentinels to the head-quarters and to the camp. The life-guard would immediately rush to the house of the general, barricade the doors, and throw up the windows. Five soldiers, with their muskets cocked and brought to a charge, were generally placed at each window, and there they would remain until the troops from the camp marched to head-quarters, and the cause of the alarm was ascertained. It was frequently the case that the attempts of some young suitor, who had been sparking until a late flour, and attempted to pass a sentinel without giving the countersign, caused the dis. charge of a musket, and the commotion in the camp. These occasions were very annoying to the ladies of the household, for both Mrs. Washington and Mrs. Ford were obliged to lie in bed, sometimes for hours, with their rooms full of soldiers, and the keen winter air from the open windows piercing through their drawn curtains. The winter of 1780 was one of uncommon severity, and the troops suffered dreadfully from a lack of provisions, clothing, and shelter.” The snow fell in great quantities, and the
* It is related that, among other feats, that daring horseman would sometimes, while his steed was under full gallop, discharge his pistol, throw it in the air, catch it by the barrel, and then hurl it in front as if at an enemy. Without checking the speed of his horse, he would take one foot from the stirrup, and, bending over toward the ground, recover his pistol, and wheel into line with as much precision as if he had been engaged in nothing but the management of the animal.
* Dr. Thacher, in his “Military Journal,” p. 181, says, “The sufferings of the poor soldiers can scarcely be described; while on duty they are unavoidably exposed to all the inclemency of storms and severe cold; at night they now have a bed of straw upon the ground, and a single blanket to each man; they are badly clad, and some are destitute of shoes. We have contrived a kind of stone chimney outside, and an opening at one end of our tents gives us the benefit of the fire within. The snow is now [January 6th, 1780) from four to six feet deep, which so obstructs the roads as to prevent our receiving a supply of provisions. For the last ten days we have received but two pounds of meat a man, and we are frequently for six or eight days entirely destitute of meat, and then as long without bread. The consequence is, the soldiers are so enfeebled from hunger and cold as to be almost unable to perform their military duty, or labor in constructing their huts. It is well known that General Washington experiences the greatest solicitude for the suffering of his army, and is sensible that they, in general, conduct with heroic patience and fortitude.” In a private letter to a friend, Washington said, “We have had the virtue and patience of the army put to the severest trial. Sometimes it has been five or six days together without bread, at other times as many with
Sufferings and Fortitude of the Army. Sterling's Secret Expedition. Extreme Cold. Chevalier Luzerne. Death of Miralles.
channels of transportation for provisions being closed, Washington found it necessary to levy contributions upon the inhabitants in neighboring towns. He applied to the magistrates for aid, apprehending some difficulty in the exercise of his power, but the people cheerfully complied with his requisitions, and the pressing wants of the army were supplied. The chief was greatly annoyed by complaints of frequent thefts committed by his soldiers; but such was the force of the first law of nature—self-preservation—when the commissariat was empty, that the severest punishments did not deter them from stealing sheep, hogs, and poultry. Repeated warnings were given to the army, in general orders and otherwise, against the marauding practice, yet many suffered the inflictions of the lash, and in some cases of robbery the death penalty was incurred." In January, Major-general Lord Sterling, with about fifteen hundred men in sleighs, set off at night on a secret expedition, ostensibly to procure provisions, but really to attack the enemy in their quarters on Staten Island. They passed over on the ice from Elizabethtown about midnight. It was a starry night, and the weather was extremely cold. The enemy had notice of their approach, and the object of the expedition was defeated. They captured some blankets and stores, and then returned to camp about daylight. The snow was three feet deep on the ground, and so excessive was the cold, that five hundred of the party were more or less frozen.” A retaliating movement was made soon aft- January.g. erward by the enemy. A party attacked the American picket guard, and carried 1780. off a major and forty men. Two or three enterprises of a like nature were all that varied the monotonous round of duties until the arrival at head-quarters of the Chevalier de Luzerne, the minister from the French government. He succeeded M. Gerard, the first minister sent to the insurgent colonies from France, and had arrived in Philadelphia the September previous. He was an accomplished and highly honorable gentleman, and was received with much regard by the commander-in-chief. Don Juan de Miralles, a distinguished Spaniard, accompanied him; and during their visits the military education which Baron Steuben, the celebrated tactician, had imparted to the army was several times displayed in reviews and difficult evolutions. Luzerne remained some time at head-quarters, and a ball, which was attended by Washington and his lady, all his officers, Governor Livingston and his lady, and many other distinguished persons, was given in his honor, at the Morris Hotel. Miralles, in the mean while, was seized, at head-quarters, with a pulmonic sever, and died on the 28th. The religious ceremonies of the funeral were conducted by a Spanish Catholic priest, and the body was interred with great pomp in the common buryingground near the church in Morristown.” A guard of soldiers was placed near the grave, to
out meat, and once or twice two or three days at a time without either......... At one time the soldiers eat every kind of horse food but hay. Buckwheat, common wheat, rye, and Indian corn composed the meal which made their bread. As an army, they bore it with the most heroic patience; but sufferings like these, accompanied by the want of clothes, blankets, &c., will produce frequent desertions in all armies; and so it happened with us, though it did not excite a single mutiny.” 'Dr. Thacher says (Military Journal, p.182) that whipping with knotted cords, which often cut through the flesh at every blow, applied to the bare back, was the most common punishment. The drummers and fifers were made the executioners, and it was the duty of the drum major to see that the chastisement was well performed. The soldiers adopted a method which they said somewhat mitigated the anguish of the lash. They put a leaden bullet between their teeth, and bit on it while the punishment was in progress. They would thus often receive fifty lashes without uttering a groan or hardly wincing. *So intense was the cold that winter that New York Bay was thickly frozen over, and large bodies of troops, with heavy cannons, were transported on the ice, from New York city to Staten Island, a distance of nine miles. * Dr. Thacher has left a record of the burial. “The deceased,” he says (page 188), “had been about one year a resident with our Congress, from the Spanish court. The corpse was dressed in rich state, and exposed to public view, as is customary in Europe. The coffin was most splendid and stately, lined throughout with fine cambric, and covered on the outside with rich black velvet, ornamented in a superb manner. The top of the coffin was removed, to display the pomp and grandeur with which the body was decorated. It was in a splendid full dress, consisting of a scarlet suit embroidered with rich gold lace, a three-cornered gold-laced hat, and a genteel cued wig, white silk stockings, large diamond shoe and knee buckles; a profusion of diamond rings decorated the fingers, and from a superb gold watch, set with diamonds, several
Mutiny at Morristown. Excuses for the Movement. Injustice toward the Soldiers. Policy and Success of Wayne.
prevent its desecration in search of hidden treasure, until the body could be removed to Philadelphia. Morristown was the scene of the only serious and decided mutiny in the American army during the Revolution. It occurred on the 1st of January, 1781. The whole movement, when all the circumstances are taken into account, should not be execrated as a military rebellion, for, if ever there was just cause for men to lift up their strength against authority, those mutineers possessed it. They had suffered every privation during a long, and, in many respects, disastrous campaign, and not a ray of hope appeared in the gloomy future. Their small stipend of money was paid irregularly, sometimes not at all, and generally in Continental bills, which were every day becoming more valueless. The frequent promises of Congress had as frequently been unfulfilled, and the illiberal interpretations which the officers gave to the expressed terms of the enlistment of the soldiers produced great dissatisfaction. It was stipulated in those terms that they (the soldiers of the Pennsylvania line, who revolted) should serve for three years, or during the war. The soldiers interpreted these words to mean that they should be entitled to a discharge at the end of three years, or sooner, if the war should terminate. This was doubtless the spirit of the agreement, but the officers read it otherwise, and claimed their service until the conclusion of the war, however long that time might be. This was the principal cause of dissatisfaction, and a quarrel with the officers led to open rebellion. The Pennsylvania line at that time consisted of about two thousand men, and was stationed at the old camp-ground near Morristown. The three years' enlistment had expired with most of them. A bounty of three half joes (about twenty-five dollars) had been offered to new recruits, while the pay of these veterans of three years' service was not increased. There was still due them their pay for twelve months, and nakedness and famine were their daily companions. The officers had murmured somewhat, and the soldiers, hearing the whisperings of complaint, took courage and spoke out boldly. They appointed a sergeant major their commander, styling him major general; and in the evening of the 1st of January, on a preconcerted signal, the whole line, except a part of three regiments, paraded under arms without officers, marched to the magazines, supplied themselves with provisions and ammunition, and, seizing six field pieces, took horses from General Wayne's stables to transport them. The officers of the line collected those who had not joined the insurgents, and endeavored to restore order, but some of the revolters fired, killing a Captain Billings and wounding several others. The mutineers then ordered the minority to come over to their side immediately, or suffer destruction by the bayonet, and the command was obeyed. General Wayne was in command of the Pennsylvania troops, and was much beloved by them. He exerted all his influence, by threats and persuasions, to bring them back to duty until their grievances should be redressed. They would not listen to his remonstrances, and, on his cocking his pistol, they presented their bayonets to his breast, saying, “We respect and love you; often have you led us into the field of battle, but we are no longer under your command; we warn you to be on your guard; if you fire your pistol, or attempt to enforce your commands, we shall put you instantly to death.” Wayne appealed to their patriotism; they pointed to the impositions of Congress. He reminded them of the strength their conduct would give to the enemy; they exhibited their tattered garments and emaciated forms. They avowed their willingness to support the cause of freedom, for it was dear to
rich seals were suspended. His excellency, General Washington, with several other general officers and members of Congress, attended the funeral solemnities, and walked as chief mourners. The other officers of the army, and numerous respectable citizens, formed a splendid procession, extending about a mile. The pallbearers were six field officers, and the coffin was borne on the shoulders of four officers of artillery, in full uniform. Minute guns were fired during the procession, which greatly increased the solemnity of the occasion.” Dr. Thacher adds, “This gentleman is said to have been in possession of an immense fortune, and has left to his three daughters, in Spain, one hundred thousand pounds sterling (half a million of dollars) each. Here we behold the end of all earthly riches, pomp, and dignity. The ashes of Don Miralles mingle with the remains of those who are clothed in humble shrouds, and whose career in life was marked by sordid poverty and wretchedness”