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Saratoga campaign, which was the turning-point of the whole war. Such was the fate of the only two German contingents that possessed the martial traditions, the corporate spirit, and the robust organisation of long-established armies. It was evident that George the Third could expect little, -- and he most undoubtedly obtained nothing, - from the fragmentary and extemporised rabbles of unwilling peasants who had been pressed upon his acceptance by the minor potentates of Franconia. Industrious plunderers, and soldiers of no account, that wretched infantry went through the war, (whatever might be the case as to their honour,) with their bayonets unstained. The military record of the Anhalt Zerbst battalion was farcical; the Waldeckers all of them surrendered in detachments; and the Anspach and Bayreuth regiments were captured bodily at Yorktown. Seldom has public money been worse laid out than in the case of Lord North's Continental subsidies. The unpopularity of that policy in England, the disapprobation of Europe, and the irremediable alienation of American loyalty, far over-balanced any military advantage which accrued from the extravagantly remunerated services of the German mercenaries.
Washington had caught the occasion by the forelock, at a moment when, unless his grasp had held firm, all would have been over with himself and his cause. A few days before Christmas he informed Robert Morris that Sir William Howe, in order to prosecute his designs
1 In March 1780 a raiding expedition pillaged the rich and beautiful village of Hackensac, which was entirely undefended. Some Americans came in arms to the rescue ; and the spoilers ran. My own booty," wrote an Anspach musketeer, " which I brought safely back, consisted of two silver watches, three sets of silver buckles, a pair of woman's cotton stock. ings, a pair of man's mixed summer stockings, two shirts and four chemises of fine English linen, two fine table-cloths, one silver table-spoon and one teaspoon, five Spanish dollars and six York shillings in money. The other part, namely eleven pieces of fine linen and over two dozen silk handkerchiefs, with six silver plates and a silver drinking-mug, which were tied together a bundle, I had to throw away on account of our hurried march, and leave them to the enemy that was pursuing us.”
against Philadelphia, was only waiting for the Delaware to freeze, and for that first of January 1777 when the American army would disband itself. You might as well, (said Washington,) attempt to stop the winds from blowing, or the sun in its diurnal revolution, as to prevent the soldiers from going home when their time was up. In another important direction the outlook was most discouraging. “It is mortifying to me," Morris wrote to President Hancock,“ when am obliged to tell you disagreeable things; but I am compelled to inform Congress that the Continental currency keeps losing its credit. Many people refuse openly and avowedly to receive it; and several citizens, that retired into the country, must have starved if their own private credit had not procured them the common necessaries of life, when nothing could be got for your money.”ı General Lee was known to be in pecuniary distress; and Congress had procured a hundred of the pieces which went by the name of a half-johannes, in order to relieve the immediate necessities of the distinguished prisoner. Washington was entrusted with the disbursement of this slender hoard; and it was all the specie which his military chest contained. He was already bare of money, and by the week's end the greater part of his troops would have disappeared, when his cannon opened fire on Trenton, and the saving mercy came.
Then at last, and at once, the prospect brightened. Wherever, and whenever, the thrice-welcome news arrived, the whole Confederacy was astir. From one State and another the authorities sent in word that every man should march who could be prevailed upon to move. In Connecticut, where Jonathan Trumbull ruled with the despotic power which at a national crisis is accorded to conspicuous energy and tried probity,-- it was reported on the twenty-eighth of December that some hundreds of substantial freeholders, many of them not belonging to the militia, had engaged with a generous ardour to
1 Robert Morris to the President of Congress at Baltimore; Philadelphia, December 23, 1776.
serve for two months at least, until the four Continental battalions, which the State was bound to furnish, had been equipped and disciplined. Several Colonels and Majors, setting considerations of rank aside, had readily accepted the command of companies. On the same day Washington was informed that Pennsylvania had at length been fairly roused, and was coming in great numbers to His Excellency's support. The encouraging assurance proceeded from General Mifflin himself. That admirable recruiting officer had been working hard amid gloom and discouragement; but the light had broken through the clouds; a single day of sunshine enabled him to complete the harvest; and he returned from his labours, bringing his sheaves with him. Before ever the year ended, sixteen hundred more Pennsylvanian militiamen had been sent across the Bristol Ferry to Burlington and Bordentown. Washington's most pressing care, however, was not so much to obtain additional regiments as to preserve those which he had already. “The Continental troops,” (he wrote to Robert Morris,) “are all at liberty. I wish to push our success to keep up the panick, and have promised them a bounty of ten dollars, if they will continue for one month. If it be possible, Sir, to give us assistance, do it. Borrow money where it can be done. We are doing it upon our private credit. Every man of interest, every lover of his country, must strain his credit upon such an occasion.” 2
Washington led the way by pledging his own estate, for all that it would bear, in case Congress should neglect, or refuse, to make his promise of a bounty good. Colonel Stark, and other hard-fighting officers who likewise were men of substance, did not show themselves behindhand with their chief in patriotism and disinterestedness; and four hundred and ten Spanish dollars, two crowns, ten shillings and sixpence in English coin, and a French half-crown, were contributed as a unique and precious oblation by Robert Morris. That
1 American Archives for the later days of December 1776.
was all the gold and silver which the great financier could scrape together in Philadelphia ; but on the first of January he sent Washington fifty thousand dollars in paper, collected among his private friends, or drawn out of his own pocket; and he accompanied the gift with a cheerful, fraternal letter which it must have done the General's heart good to read. Boston meanwhile, - safe within her own borders, and mindful of those whose turn it now was to hazard their lives for the principles which she had been the first to proclaim, and the foremost to defend, -sent a plentiful assortment of shoes and stockings, and of still more essential garments, to clothe the destitute New England regiments.
With these material resources in hand, the most persuasive and influential officers united in exhorting their soldiers to remain a while longer in the ranks; and of eloquence, in that army, there was a larger supply than of creature-comforts or solid cash. Washington spoke his best; and Knox also; while every regiment had an opportunity of hearing General Mifflin harangue, “mounted on a noble-looking horse, in a coat made of rose-coloured blanket, with a large fur cap on his head.” The man whose words, — winged by his own noble, and even sublime, example, - flew most directly and surely to the mark, was the commander of the Massachusetts and Rhode Island brigade. Colonel Daniel Hitchcock, a Master of Arts of Yale College, was an accomplished gentleman, and as fine a classical scholar as the erudition of the colonies could then produce. In the last stage of consumption, he still might look forward to another fortnight of existence among the snow-gusts of that chilling winter; and his men heard him eagerly and sadly when he adjured them not to desert him until he had the satisfaction of striking one more blow for America. A great number of them assured him that
1“ If further supplies of money,” Morris wrote, are necessary, you may depend on my exertions either in a public or private capacity. The year Seventeen seventy-six is over; and I am heartily glad of it, and hope you, nor America, will be plagued with such another.”
he might count upon having his own soldiers round him to the last; and the New England brigade set the rest of the army an example which Washington described as an extraordinary mark of their attachment to their country. The militia, (so the Commander-in-Chief wrote,) were pouring in from all quarters, and only wanted a firm body of troops, inured to danger, to lead them on. He did not pitch his hopes too high; and he was tolerably contented when more than half his Continental veterans agreed to stay six weeks beyond their term of enlistment; for that period would see the Republic through the gravest of the peril. Congress, schooled by misfortune, had authorised Washington to raise, organise, and equip a large additional body of regular troops, and had invested him with supreme military powers for the furtherance of that object. Those powers were already being employed to such purpose that, if he could hold his own for one or two months longer, he would find himself at the head of a force which, in comparison with anything he had yet commanded, might almost be termed a standing army.
On the morning of Monday, the thirtieth of December, Washington passed the Delaware, in order to try conclusions with a better prepared, and a much stouter,
1 Washington to the officer commanding at Morristown, December 30, 1776; to the President of Congress, January 1, 1777; to the Committee of Congress remaining in Philadelphia, January 1, 1777:
2 David How's battalion was approached, like the others, with the offer of a bounty.
“ Dec. 31. The General ordered all to parade And see How many wood Stay 6 Weaks Longer and a Grate Part of the Army Stays for that time.
" January 1. This fore noon we have ben Drawing our wages and Sauce money. This after Noon we set out For New England marched 4 miles. Staid at night there.”
It is plain that How himself insisted on his right to leave the colours, and go home. Nine months afterwards he turned out once more, "to march to General Gates his assistance," and arrived in time to witness the capitulation of Burgoyne. That, so far as is known, was his last service. Having taken part at Bunker's Hill, at the capture of Boston, at Trenton, and at Saratoga, he had done his share towards the manufacture of history.