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mander of no more than common firmness would have resigned his commission in disgust, for not being supported by his country. Very different was the manner in which Washington acted. Trusting that the promised support would be forwarded with all possible dispatch, he sent on to the French commanders, by the marquis de la Fayette, definitive proposals for commencing the siege of New York. Of this he
information to congress in a letter, in the following words: “ Pressed on all sides by a choice of difficulties in a moment which required decision, I have adopted that line of conduct which comported with the dignity and faith of congress, the reputation of these states, and the honour of our arms. I have sent on definitive proposals of co-operation to the French general and admiral. Neither the period of the season nor a regard to decency would permit delay. The die is cast, and it remains with the states either to fulfil their engagements, preserve their credit, and support their independence; or to involve us in disgrace and defeat.
Notwithstanding the failures pointed out by the committee, I shall proceed on the supposition that they will ultimately consult their own interest and honour, and not suffer us to fail for the want
of means which it is in their power to afford. What has been done, and is doing, by some of the states, confirms the opinion I have entertained of sufficient resources in the country. Of the disposition of the people to submit to any arrangement for bringing them forth, I see no reasonable ground to doubt. If we fail for want of proper exertions in any of the
governments, I trust the responsibility will fall where it ought, and that I shall stand justified to congress, my country, and the world."
The 5th of the next month, August, was named as the day when the French troops should embark, and the American army assemble in Morrissania for the
of conmencing their combined operations. : Very soon after the arrival of the French fleet, admiral Greaves reinforced the British naval force, in the harbour of New York, with six ships of the line. Hitherto the French had a naval superiority. Without it all prospect of success in the proposed attack on New York was visionary : but this being suddenly and unexpectedly reversed, the plan for combined operations became eventual. The British admiral, having now the superiority, proceeded to Rhode island, to attack the French in that quarter. He soon discovered
that the French were perfectly secure from any attack by sea. Sir Henry Clinton, who had returned in the preceding month with his victorious troops from Charleston,' embarked about 8,000 of his best men, and proceeded as far as Huntingdon bay on Long island, with the apparent design of concurring with the British feet in attacking the French force at Rhode island. When this movement took place, general Washington set his army in motion, and proceeded to Peckskill. Had sir Henry Clinton prosecuted what appeared to be his design, general Washington intended to have attacked New York in his absence. Preparations were made for this
but sir Henry Clinton instantly turned about from Huntingdon bay towards New York.
In the meantime, the French fleet and army, being blocked up at Rhode-island, were incapacitated from co-operating with the Americans. Hopes were nevertheless indulged, that, by the arrival of another fleet of his most christian majesty, then in the West Indies, under the command of count de Guichen, the superiority would be so much in favour of the allies, as to enable them to prosecute their original intention of attacking New York. When the expectations of the Americans were raised to the highest pitch, and when they were in great forwardness of
preparation preparation to act in concert with their allies, intelligence arrived, that count de Guichen had sailed for France. This disappointment was extremely mortifying.
Washington still adhered to his purpose of attacking New York at some future and more favourable period. On this subject, he corresponded with the French commanders, and had a personal interview with them on the 21st of September, at Hartford. The arrival of admiral Rodney on the American coast a short time after with eleven ships of the line, disconcerted, for that season, the plans of the allies.
General Washington felt with infinite regret a succession of abortive projects throughout the campaign of 1780. In that
In that year, and not before, he had indulged the hope of happily terminating the war. In a letter to a friend, he wrote as follows: “ We are now drawing to a close an inactive campaign, the beginning of which appeared pregnant with events of a very favourable complexion. I hoped, but I hoped in vain, that a prospect was opening which would enable me to fix a period to my military pursuits, and restore me to domestic life. The favourable disposition of Spain—the promised succour from France-the combined force in the West Indies--the declaration of Russia (acceded to
by other powers of Europe, humiliating the naval pride and power of Great Britain)—the superiority of France and Spain by sea in Europe--the Irish claims, and English disturbances-formed in the aggregate an opinion in
my breast (which is not very susceptible of peaceful dreams) that the hour of deliverance was not far distant; for that, however unwilling Great Britain might be to yield the point, it would not be in her power to continue the contest. But, alas! these prospects, flattering as they were, have proved delusory; and I see nothing before us but accumulating distress. We have been half of our time without provisions, and are likely to continue so. We have no magazines, nor money to form them. We have lived upon expedients until we can live no longer. In a word, the history of the war is a history of false hopes and temporary devices, instead of system and ceconomy. It is in vain, however, to look back, nor is it our business to do so. Our case is not desperate, if virtue exists in the people, and there is wisdom among our rulers. But to suppose that this great revolution can be accomplished by a temporary army--that this army will be subsisted by state supplies. and that taxation alone is adequate to our wants, is, in my opinion, absurd.”