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the operations which had taken place since Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas night, not two hundred lives were sacrificed in both the armies together. More often than enough in the world's history twenty thousand men have been slaughtered in a single battle; and far less has come of it, at the moment, or thereafter.
Howe, in his published despatch, made very light indeed of the disaster at Princeton ; but he was too old a soldier to neglect the lesson which the events of the past ten days had taught him. He at length perceived that, so long as Washington's army was in existence, his own tactics would have to be governed by military, and not by political, considerations. It had been a premature act to quarter his troops in detached cantonments over an extensive district for the purpose of overawing populations of doubtful fidelity, or of safeguarding a loyal province; and New Jersey was no longer friendly, nor even neutral. “Howe," wrote John Adams, “will repent his mad march through the Jer. seys. The people of that Commonwealth begin to raise their spirits exceedingly, and to be firmer than ever. They are actuated by resentment now; and resentment coinciding with principle is a very powerful motive."ı A Delaware captain, who was following the army, and who kept his eyes about him, prophesied that Jersey would henceforward be the most Whiggish colony on the Continent. The very Quakers, (he said,) declared for taking up arms; for the distress of the country was beyond imagination, and everyone had been stripped without distinction. The proceedings of the Hessians, moreover, suffered by contrast. Washington's conduct in disposing of their booty has been faithfully described by an honest Tory, who would have travelled many brigade, and thanked him in the hearing of his soldiers. The colonel then went quietly home to Rhode Island, and died in ten days ; - killed at Princeton, if his family cared to claim that honour.
1 John Adams to his wife ; Baltimore, February 17, 1777.
2 Captain Thomas Rodney, from near Princeton ; December 30, 1777. The letter is in the American Archives.
miles to see him executed for a rebel. The American commander, (so this gentleman related,) advertised for all persons to come in, and prove their property in the stolen goods; and to all such as made out a title the effects were delivered. “This act gained him the hearts of the people. It gave him an influence, a popularity, and a character in New Jersey of which he made the most proper use.” 1
The news of Trenton spread confusion and perplexity through all the townships where Royal troops were stationed; and the ferment was redoubled when it became known that Washington had marched across the rear of Cornwallis, and had sorely maltreated three of his regiments.? Sir William Howe's chain of posts at once came clanking and clattering down. Hackensac and Elizabeth Town, — in the very heart of the district which he had undertaken to protect, — were captured by the Americans, together with much baggage and many prisoners; a band of minute-men killed or took a detachment of fifty Waldeckers; and a score of New Jersey light-horsemen intercepted a train of Royal waggons laden with woollen clothing which was most acceptable among the tents at Morristown. All this happened in the first week of January; and Howe, passing from the extreme of temerity to a redundance of caution, collected his New Jersey army of occupation into two large garrisons of five thousand men apiece, and planted them respectively at Brunswick and Perth Amboy, within
1 Jones's History of New York; Vol. I., chapter viii. There are some interesting remarks, relative to New Jersey, in the Annual Register for 1777. "As soon as fortune turned,” (so the passage runs,) " and the means were in their power, the sufferers of all parties, the well-disposed to the Royal cause as well as the neutrals and the wavering, now rose as a man to revenge their personal injuries and particular oppressions, and,
- being goaded by a keener spur than any which a public cause, or general motive, could have excited, - became its bitterest and most determined enemies."
2 Colonel Enoch Markham's journal supplies a vivid picture of the disorder which prevailed in rear of the British lines when the New Year opened. Extracts are given in the first Appendix at the end of this volume,
touch of each other, and out of all opportunity for striking a blow against the enemy. He contented himself with securing the banks of the Raritan for a stretch of ten miles above the mouth of the river; and he abandoned all the rest of the province to the audacious and indefatigable enterprise of the Revolutionary partisans. The rural folk put themselves at the service of Washington's flying columns in the capacity of scouts, messengers, and informants; and the more adventurous among them transacted much business on their own account at the expense of the British regimental messes. They surprised convoys; they cut off foragers; they detected and emptied outlying repositories of food and fuel. “Not a stick of wood," we are told, “not spear of grass, or a kernel of corn, could the troops in New Jersey procure without fighting for it, unless it was sent from New York ;” and in New York nothing grew, and everything had to be fetched from England or Ireland at a vast expense, and very much the less palatable on account of the distance over which it had travelled. By the end of March 1777, the London diners learned with compassion that their friends in Sir William Howe's army were reduced to salt provisions, and to ammunition bread which notoriously was almost uneatable.2 Captain Harris of the Fifth Foot, a valiant trencherman, like most young fellows who are marked out for eminence in war or politics, - complained that our reverses had occasioned such shifting of quarters as to render the prospect of passing the winter in ease and luxury totally dark; inasmuch as those supplies which had been pro
Jones's History of New York; Vol. I., chapter viii. 2 Horace Walpole to the Revd. William Mason; Strawberry Hill, March 28, 17-7. The garrison of New York, (said Walpole,) had not even, for a relish to their salt beef, the twenty thousand pounds' worth of pickles which had been sent them when they were besieged in Boston. "It is highly unpleasant,” (so George the Third wrote to Lord North on New Year's day, 1777,) " to see the contractors have continued delivering such bad biscuit and flour after the repeated directions given by the Board of Treasury; but I trust Sir William Howe is now in possession of so extensive a country that he will not require to be entirely provided from Europe.”
curable for money, and at very moderate prices, had now to be gathered at the point of the sword, and, what was worse, with very great fatigue.
Sir William Howe, for the time being, had lost his hold on the mainland of America; and his second campaign, like his first, had gone to water. The most important results, however, of Trenton and Princeton were not of a local or a temporary character. The permanent and
paramount consequence of those masterly operations was the establishment of Washington's military reputation, and the increased weight of his political and administrative authority throughout every State of the Confederacy, and up to the very latest hour of the war. A commander, patient and intrepid in adversity, and silent under calumny, — who never attempts to gloss over his reverses, or to explain away his mistakes, reaps the reward of his honesty and self-control tenfold, and a hundredfold, when, out of a cloud of gloom and peril, success at length comes. No one then questions the truth as he tells it in his despatches; men are inclined to over-rate, rather than to depreciate and to decry, the advantages he has gained; and few grudge the full credit of victory to a general who has always accepted the entire responsibility for failure. The withdrawal of Sir William Howe from his advanced positions in New Jersey proved to be, in the case of Washington, what the retreat of Massena from before the lines of
1 Life of Lord Harris, G.C.B. The distress in New York grew ever more severe as the war proceeded. “How people exist in this town," (Lord Carlisle wrote,) “is to the greatest degree wonderful. All the necessaries of life are dear beyond conception. Meat is from fifteen to seventeen pence a pound, and everything else in proportion. My weekly bills come to as much as the house-account at Castle Howard when we have the most company.” Lord Carlisle to Lady Carlisle ; New York, September 22, 1778.
The contents of the three last pages, (in addition to what is derived from British and Loyalist sources,) are mainly taken from the Public Papers of General George Clinton, from Heath's Diary, and from Washington's Correspondence. There is likewise an important passage in a letter from Robert Morris to the American Envoys in Paris of March 28, 1777
Torres Vedras was in relation to the personal fortunes, and the public usefulness, of Wellington. Any more exact parallel in the story of two exalted careers it would be difficult to name. From Trenton onwards, Washington was recognised as a far-sighted and skilful general all Europe over, - by the great military nobles in the Empress Catherine's court, by French Marshals and Ministers, in the King's cabinet at Potsdam, at Madrid, at Vienna, and in London. He had shown himself, (said Horace Walpole,) both a Fabius and a Camillus; and his march through the British lines was allowed to be a prodigy of leadership. That was the talk in England; and the Englishman who, of all others, most warmly appreciated Washington's strategy in New Jersey during that fortnight of midwinter was one who had had the very best opportunity for judging of it. After the capitulation at Yorktown, in October 1781, a dinner was given at the American head-quarters to the principal officers in the British, the French, and the Continental armies. Cornwallis,
Cornwallis, - exaggerating to himself, it may be, the obligations of old-fashioned courtesy and chivalry, took his seat at the board, and responded thus to a toast which Washington had proposed. “When the illustrious part that your Excellency has borne in this long and arduous contest becomes matter of history, fame will gather your brightest laurels rather from the banks of the Delaware than from those of the Chesapeake.” At that moment, and before that audience, Washington's generalship in the Chesapeake campaign must have represented an exceptionally high standard of comparison.
In such estimation was Washington held by foreigners, whether they were declared enemies, or benevolent neutrals, or potential and probable allies; and he thenceforward had all his own countrymen for admirers, except those very few who did not as yet altogether renounce the ambition of being popularly regarded as his rivals. The enhanced influence which he derived
1 Walpole to Mann; Strawberry Hill, April 3, 1777.