Front Page Titles (by Subject) C H A P T E R X I I I: Evacuation of Philadelphia • Battle of Monmouth • General Lee censured • General Clinton reaches New York • The Count de Estaing arrives there—Repairs to Rhode Island—Expedition unsuccessful. French Fleet rendezvous at Boston, to re - History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution vol. 1
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C H A P T E R X I I I: Evacuation of Philadelphia • Battle of Monmouth • General Lee censured • General Clinton reaches New York • The Count de Estaing arrives there—Repairs to Rhode Island—Expedition unsuccessful. French Fleet rendezvous at Boston, to re - Mercy Otis Warren, History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution vol. 1 
History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations, in Two Volumes, Foreword by Lester H. Cohen (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund 1994). Vol. 1.
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C H A P T E R X I I I
Evacuation of Philadelphia • Battle of Monmouth • General Lee censured • General Clinton reaches New York • The Count de Estaing arrives there—Repairs to Rhode Island—Expedition unsuccessful. French Fleet rendezvous at Boston, to refit after the Damages sustained by a Storm • Lord Howe leaves the American Seas • Marauding Exploits of General Grey • Destruction of Wyoming • Expedition into the Indian Territories
chap. xiii The new commission with which sir Henry Clinton was now vested, was prompt, arduous,1778 and replete with consequences of the highest magnitude to his country, and to his own reputation. The Trident man of war had arrived in the Delaware early in the month of June, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight. In this ship came the British commissioners for conciliation; and through the hand of sir William Eden, general Clinton received peremptory orders to evacuate the city of Philadelphia, within six days after their reception. Accordingly the whole British army decamped, and began their march toward New York on the eighteenth of June.
The sudden desertion of a city that had been so much the object of their warmest  wishes, tended at once to dishearten the adherents to the royal cause, and to invigorate the operations of their antagonists. It could not be expected, that general Washington would remain a quiet spectator of this movement of the British troops. He immediately dispatched a reconnoitering party under general Maxwell, to harass their march.* The marquis de la Fayette also marched at the head of a detachment, to meet them and impede their progress; and general Lee with two brigades, was ordered to follow and support him.
The British commander prepared for this interruption, suddenly attacked and routed the cavalry under the marquis. By this the infantry were deranged: and general Washington, finding an action of moment was likely to ensue, posted himself, after several military movements, as advantageously as possible, near the heights of Monmouth.
The Americans spirited and courageous, the British resolute, brave, and desperate, a sharp  conflict succeeded. The military game of death and retreat, of recovery and slaughter, was kept up for several hours without decision. But a misunderstanding on a disobedience of orders by general Lee, occasioned such a derangement on the American side, as gave the opportunity for a safe retreat to the royal army, in spite of the valor and intrepidity of their opponents. Many on both sides fell by the intense heat of the weather. It was one of those days not unusual in the southern clime, when the stroke of the sun is instantaneously fatal to human life, without the agitation and fatigue inseparable from the hour of battle.
Some warm expressions in the heat of engagement from general Washington, drew several letters from Lee, that could not be passed over in silence. For these, and for his deportment through the events of the day of action, he was suspended from his command, and afterwards tried by a court-martial. The exigencies of affairs, as well as his misconduct, made it necessary, that he should lie under censure for disobedience, and disrespect to the commander in chief:* yet many of his brother officers advocated, or at least extenuated his conduct.
 Perhaps it might not have been either treachery, cowardice, envy, or any other unworthy motive, that influenced the conduct of general Lee. He had but recently recovered his liberty after he was captured at Hackinsack. Previous to that time, the American army was too justly considered by him, an undisciplined rabble. They had indeed, in his absence, made great improvements in the art of war, and the necessary arrangements of military discipline; however, he had not yet a proper confidence in the infant troops he commanded, when opposed to the superiority of British battalions, actuated by necessity in addition to constitutional bravery. He might retreat more from the cautious prudence of an experienced officer, than from any design to betray, or disobey the orders of the commander in chief: but it is certain he did not on all occasions, discover a due respect, either for the character or talents of general Washington.
General Lee was never again employed in American service; and undoubtedly died a martyr to chagrin, disappointment, and personal abuse, in consequence of the ingratitude of some of his former friends, arising from the popularity of a more favored, fortunate, and meritorious officer.
After his trial and suspension, general Lee retired to a little farm in Baltimore, where he  lived in the most coarse and rustic manner. Totally secluded from all society, he conversed only with a few favorite authors and his dogs, until the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty-two; when weary of his sequestered situation, he left his retreat, and repaired to Philadelphia. But out of command, he found himself without friends, without respect, and so far from that independence congenial to his mind, and to his years, that he was almost without the means of subsistence. In a short time, he sickened and died in obscurity, though in a city where he had been used to receive the highest marks of applause and respect.
After the battle of Monmouth, both parties boasted their advantages, as is usual after an indecisive action. It is certain, Washington and his brave troops gained only honor and applause,* whilst sir Henry Clinton must have thought himself fortunate indeed; on the one  hand he escaped a pursuing army, and on the other, a fleet commanded by the count de Estaing, which had just arrived in the Chesapeake.
The design of the French admiral was to shut up the British army in Philadelphia; but from the inclemency of the weather, and contrary winds, a long passage prevented his arriving seasonably to effect so desirable an object. When sir Henry Clinton left Philadelphia, he could scarcely expect, or entertain a hope, that he could conduct his army in safety, through such an extent of country, to their destination at New York; but after surmounting many embarrassments, he arrived there with his troops, nearly at the same time when the French squadron appeared at the entrance of the Delaware.
It was a happy circumstance for Clinton, that the count de Estaing did not at first direct his course to New York: however, within a few days after the arrival of the British troops, he appeared unexpectedly off Sandy Hook; and to the inexpressible mortification of British pride, they found themselves blocked up in their own harbor, by the hereditary enemy of their nation. Old antipathies revived; irritation and resentment were wrought up to the  highest pitch, by new provocations; and nothing could exceed the indignation raised by the idea, that the king of France was sending out his fleets and armies, to aid and support the rebellious colonies.
From the situation of the two fleets before New York, an engagement was thought by all to be inevitable. A spirit was diffused through all ranks of the royal army and navy, expressive of the vigor, valor, and activity of British soldiers and seamen. Such was the popularity of lord Howe, the importance of the cause, and their resentment towards France, that the soldiers, scarce recovered from their wounds and fatigue, in the late action and retreat, were solicitous and impatient to face their Gallic enemy; and the British seamen in private service were equally emulous, and solicited eagerly, and even contested the honor of employment in the navy.
Prepared for action, and confident of success, they ostentatiously boasted, that the name of Howe, and the terror of the British flag, must intimidate Frenchmen in the moment of danger; as the recollection of former defeats would officiously obtrude, in spite of their most brilliant designs. This opinion was in some measure sanctioned by the inactivity of the count de Estaing, who, after lying eleven days without the smallest advance to action, left his  station at Sandy Hook, and proceeded northward.
It is difficult to say, whether the joy or the surprise of his enemies preponderated on this occasion. They justly considered it a very fortunate circumstance, as within two or three days, five ships of the line belonging to admiral Byron’s squadron, arrived singly in so shattered a condition, that probably they, with the remainder of the fleet, must without a blow, have fallen into the hands of the French, had they continued before New York.
This unexpected manoeuvre of the count, was in consequence of a preconcerted plan, that all naval operations should be suspended at the southward, and that with all possible dispatch, the French fleet should repair to Rhode Island. This was in order to favor an expedition for the recovery of that beautiful spot, which had been seized October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six, and held by the British troops, now commanded by sir Robert Pigot. There, under cover of a number of frigates, they had rested in safety nearly two years. Detachments from the army at Newport and its environs, had frequently made incursions to the main, burnt a part of the town of Bristol, and greatly annoyed both Providence and all the adjacent country.
 The count de Estaing arrived before Newport the ninth of August; and within a few days, a large body of militia from the neighbouring states, commanded by general Hancock, and a detachment of continental troops under the command of general Sullivan, landed on the island.
The American troops, healthy, active, and vigorous, flushed with the hope of victory, not only from their own spirit and bravery, but from expectations derived from the presence of their new allies, with a powerful naval force to aid their operations, were sanguine, confident, and impatient for action. But to their unspeakable disappointment, the very day on which they landed, the French fleet again put to sea, their commander having received intelligence that lord Howe had left Sandy Hook, in full force to engage him, and to prevent the dislodgement of the royal troops, who were strong and well fortified in every part of the island.
Count de Estaing judged it prudent to meet and fight the British squadron at sea, rather than suffer lord Howe to make an effort to gain the harbor. His force was superior, his officers equally brave; there was a mutual ardor for engagement in the seamen, and a mutual ambition for glory, in both the British and French commanders. But the unforeseen operations  of nature, that so often impede the designs of man, again defeated the proud expectations of triumph in both parties. A severe storm that raged forty-eight hours, separated the two fleets; and such was the violence of a gale scarcely paralleled in those seas, that lord Howe in a very shattered and broken condition, was obliged to repair to New York to refit; and the French commanders thought themselves happy to reach Boston, in a very wretched and disabled state. The admiral’s own ship was dismasted; the Caesar of seventy-four guns, commanded by monsieur de Booves, met the Isis, a British ship of war of only fifty guns; a sharp conflict ensued; but the Caesar having lost all her masts in the storm, darkness approaching, most of his men being slain, and his own right arm shot off, monsieur de Booves found it necessary to sheer off for Boston, where the whole fleet arrived in a few days.
The count was opposed in the measure of leaving the harbor of Newport, by all the American, and many of the French officers, but by none more strenuously than the brave marquis de la Fayette, who followed him to Boston with the utmost celerity, to endeavour to expedite his return.* This misfortune  damped the ardor of the militia, some of whom had, more from ostentation than bravery, voluntarily engaged in this expedition. Near three thousand men relinquished their posts, and left the island in a day. Many of them were influenced to this precipitate desertion, by the conduct of major general Hancock, who, in spite of the remonstrances of friends, and forgetful of the hazard of popularity, left all in the moment of danger, and repaired to Boston.
General Sullivan, not disheartened by these unexpected events, nor discouraged by the untoward accidents that hitherto attended his operations, kept his station fourteen days after the secession of so large a part of his forces. Nor did he suffer his troops to be idle: several skirmishes took place, that kept up apprehension on the one side, and a military ardor on the other; but none of more importance than an action on the morning of the twenty-ninth, when a cannonade began early on both sides, and continued some hours with doubtful success. A detachment of the British troops under colonel Campbell, was routed and fled in confusion, leaving many dead on the field, among whom a favorite nephew of the commander was killed by his side. After this,  Sullivan and his officers, judging it not prudent to attack a superior force entrenched within their lines, withdrew to their own camp, while the British employed the ensuing night in strengthening and fortifying theirs.
Within three days after this rencounter, an express arrived from general Washington with information, that lord Howe had again sailed from New York, and that sir Henry Clinton had himself embarked with four thousand men, for the relief of Rhode Island. On the same day the marquis de la Fayette returned from Boston, and reported it impossible for the count de Estaing to arrive there again, timely for any operations of consequence: and as nothing effectual could be done without the aid of naval force, general Sullivan thought proper to withdraw his troops from the island.
His retreat was conducted with such secrecy, silence, and dexterity, as discovered the judgment and ability of the experienced commander. He had in his council some officers of distinguished name, who fully justified his conduct through the whole of this unsuccessful expedition. Greene, la Fayette, and Laurens,*  Fleury, Wade, Glover, Knox, Livingston, and Talbot, with many other excellent officers, had the mortification to quit the field, without the laurels so fair a prospect of military glory had waved in view.
This disappointment occasioned some temporary murmurings against the conduct of de Estaing, and even the connexion with France. A squabble soon after the fleet arrived at Boston, between some French and American sailors, heightened the uneasiness. But the most respectable people, disposed to view with a favorable eye, and to place the utmost confidence in their untried allies, all censure was hushed; and a discreet silence in the more prudent, prevented or counteracted all invidious observations from the less candid.
Lord Howe arrived in the harbor of Newport, with an hundred sail of ships of war and transports, the morning after Sullivan’s retreat.  Admiral Byron was hourly expected to join him. Thus, so superior in strength, there was every reason to expect Boston would be the next object of attack. In consequence of this appearance, the count de Estaing, who found it would require time to victual, water, and equip his shattered fleet for a second cruise, judged it necessary to fortify several advantageous islands in the harbor, and thus be in readiness for the reception of the British fleets, if they should be again disposed to visit Boston.
Lord Howe before he returned to New York, went round and looked into the harbor of Boston; but finding most of the ships belonging to the French fleet repaired, and Castle William and the islands in a defensible state, he did not think proper to make any hostile attempt on the town. Not perfectly pleased with the American war, and disgusted at some things relative to his own command, his lordship resigned his commission soon after this, and repaired to England. He left the American seas in September, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.
When his lordship arrived in England, he complained publicly, that he had been deceived into the command, and deceived while in it. Tired and disgusted with the service, he had  been compelled to resign; and that he had suffered too much ever to risk a return to any situation, that might terminate in equal mortification. He observed, that he must be excused from any employment, while the present ministry continued in office, being convinced by decisive experience, that he not only risked his own honor and professional character in the attempt, but that under such councils, he was as sensible as those who had been earlier in opposition, that no essential service could be rendered his country.
But though we see him no more on the American theatre, yet, notwithstanding his dissatisfaction with the conduct of administration, lord Howe again, before the conclusion of peace, acted a conspicuous part under the renowned flag of Great Britain.
The celebrated Bougainville, who had before explored the other side of the globe, was, with many other officers of high rank and distinction, for the first time in the American seas. They were every where welcomed as the generous friends of the United States, the patrons of liberty, and the supporters of the rights of men. But, as there had not yet been time to prove the sincerity of either party, the old officers who remembered the late war between England and France, when America hugged herself in the protection of Britain, and adopted  all her opinions, looked as if they wished rather than believed, all ancient prejudices obliterated.* They seemed silently to half doubt the reality of that friendship which appeared in the politeness of their reception, from a people of a different religion, language, habits, and manners; and at first, seemed reluctantly to hold back that flow of affection, which the Americans were ready to return in full measure.
As to the younger class, unconscious of injury, ambitious for glory, and eager for the humiliation of Britain, hope danced in their eye; every feature displayed the wish of mutual confidence; and with honest joy, they extended their arms to embrace their new allies. Yet, the squadrons of the house of Bourbon riding in the ports, and fortifying the American harbors against their natural friends, the parent of the once loyal and affectionate colonies, was an event which, though precipitated by the folly of Britain, had out-run the expectations of America: nor could such a circumstance fail to excite the most serious recollections  and contemplations, both of the philosopher and the politician.
The timely and judicious movement of general Sullivan, disappointed the expectations of sir Henry Clinton, who flattered himself he should arrive soon enough to cut off the retreat of the American army. When he found they had withdrawn, he immediately left the neighbourhood of Rhode Island, and returned to New York, after he had dispatched major general Grey at the head of a large detachment, on a marauding expedition against some defenceless towns in the Massachusetts.
The first attack was on Bedford, a small town on the river Acushnet. He landed in the evening. The inhabitants alarmed at this unexpected attack, most of them fled, and left their property a prey to their enemies. When they returned in the morning, they found the Britons retired; but to their inexpressible mortification, almost every thing of value was destroyed or carried off. Houses, warehouses, magazines, and stores, with near an hundred sail of shipping, were burnt on the Bedford and Fairhaven sides of the river.
After this feat, Grey proceeded to Martha’s Vineyard, laid the inhabitants under contribution, and demanded a surrender of their arms. From thence he visited Nantucket and the  neighbouring isles: and with the plunder of fifteen or twenty thousand cattle and sheep, for the use of the army at New York, he returned with his party, exulting in depredations that would have been disgraceful to an officer of much inferior character and abilities.*
Sir Henry Clinton pleased with the success of this expedition, sent Grey immediately on to aid a similar mode of war on the Jersey coast. Lord Cornwallis had with a large body of troops, taken post between the North River and the Hackinsack: general Knyphausen with another division, was posted in a parallel position on the other side of the North River. Thus were they conveniently situated to guard their foraging parties, and distress the country by sudden depredations and continual havoc, during the remainder of the autumn.
General Grey with his usual activity had gained intelligence of the insecure situation, in which a regiment commanded by colonel Baylor, had reposed themselves for the night of the twenty-fourth of September. A party sent on with orders to give no quarter, cut off the  guards, and surprised the unhappy victims asleep in an out-house. They awoke, submitted, implored quarter, and were massacred in an hour. Only ten or twelve escaped with life, after they were barbarously wounded, stripped, and left for dead. This remnant so far recovered as, by favor of the darkness, to reach the post of their friends, and detail the horrid transaction. They agreed on oath, that they and their companions had all surrendered, as soon as they found themselves in the enemy’s hands, and asked only for life. But the savage cry was, “kill them, kill them; we have orders to give no quarter:” and the barbarous echo was kept up till every man was, or appeared to be murdered.*
A repetition of the same cruel policy soon after took place on the surprise of a party of Pulaski’s light infantry. Some deserters had betrayed them into the hands of the British. Several hundred of these unhappy men were butchered without mercy, after the surrender of their arms. The baron de Bose, a Polish nobleman, was among the slain. An apology was afterwards attempted, by pleading that they had received information, the count Pulaski in orders  to his legion, had enjoined that no quarter should be given to any that might fall into their hands. This was denied both by the count and his officers. But had it been true, that a foreign nobleman, hardened amidst the barbarities of Polish confederacies, could so far deviate from the laws of humanity as to give such an order, the example should never have been followed by the polite and gallant Englishmen. But in this war, they seemed to have lost those generous feelings of compassion to the vanquished foe, that must ever be deemed honorary to the human character.
A counterpart to the conduct of the more refined, though little more humanized commanders of the predatory parties in the middle and northern colonies, was exhibited in the southern borders, by their savage allies of the wilderness.
This was dreadfully realized by the inhabitants of Wyoming, a young settlement on the eastern branch of the Susquehanna. The population of this once happy spot had been remarkably rapid, and when the fury of civil discord first appeared among them, it contained eight townships of five miles square each. They were situated in a mild climate, in a country fertile, and beautifully displaying a picturesque appearance of that kind of primitive simplicity, only enjoyed before the mind of man  is contaminated by ambition or gold. But party rage had spread its baneful influence to the remotest corners of America, and political animosities had at this period poisoned the peace, even of the most distant villages, where simplicity, friendship, and industry had reigned, until the fell fiend which prompts to civil war, made its frightful appearance, attended by all the horrors imagination can paint.
The inhabitants of this favored spot, perhaps more zealous than discreet, had so far participated the feelings of all America, as voluntarily to raise and send forward one thousand men, to join the continental army. This step disclosed the embers of opposition that had hitherto lain concealed, in the bosoms of a number long disaffected to the American, and warmly attached to the royal cause. A rancorous spirit immediately burst from the latent spark, which divided families, and separated the tenderest connections. Animosities soon arose to such a height, that some of the most active members of this flourishing and happy society, abandoned their plantations, forsook their friends, joined and instigated the neighbouring savages to molest the settlements, and assisted in the perpetration of the most unheard of cruelties.
Several outrages had been committed by small parties, and many threatening appearances  had so far alarmed the inhabitants, that most of them had repaired to some fortresses early erected for their defence against the native savages. Yet there was no apprehension of a general massacre and extermination, till the beginning of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight, when an army of near two thousand men, made its appearance on the Susquehannah, and landed on their borders. This body was composed of the motley materials of Indians, tories, half-blooded Englishmen, and British renegadoes, headed by one Butler, who had nothing human about him, except a rough, external figure of a man.
All the inhabitants of those weak, defenceless settlements capable of bearing arms, embodied, and put themselves under the direction of a person of the same name, a near relation of the commander of the savages. This man, either through fear, weakness, or misplaced confidence, listened to the offers of treaty from his more artful kinsman, and suffered himself with four hundred men, to be drawn from fort Kingston by a delusive flag, that alternately advanced and retired, as if apprehensive of danger. Caught by the snare, he was completely surrounded before he had any suspicion of deception, and his whole party cut off, notwithstanding  they fought with a spirit becoming their desperate situation.
The victor immediately pushed on, invested the garrison thus indiscreetly left, and demanded a surrender. The demand was accompanied by the horrid display of a great number of scalps, just torn from the heads, and yet warm with the blood, of their nearest friends and relations. In this situation of wretchedness, embittered by impotent resentment, colonel Donnison, on whom the command had devolved, finding resistance impracticable, went out himself with a flag, to ask the terms of surrender. To this humiliating question, the infamous Butler replied, with all the sang-froid of the savage, and the laconism of an ancient Greek, “the hatchet.”
The unfortunate Donnison returned in despair; yet he bravely defended the fort until most of his men had fallen by his side, when the barbarians without, shut up this and a neighbouring garrison, where a number of women and children had repaired for safety, and setting fire to both, they enjoyed the infernal pleasure of seeing them perish promiscuously, in the flames lighted by their bloody hands.*
 After this catastrophe, the most shocking devastation was spread through the townships. Whilst some were employed in burning the houses, setting fire to the corn-fields, and rooting out every trait of improvement, others were cruelly and wantonly imbruing their hands in the blood of their parents, their brothers, and every near connexion, who had unfortunately held different political opinions. But a particular detail of the transactions of savages, stimulated by the agents of more refined and polished nations, with passions whetted by revenge, without principle to check its operation, is too painful to the writer, and too disgraceful to human nature to dwell on. Nor is it less painful to the impartial historian, to relate the barbarous, though by them deemed necessary, vengeance, soon after taken by the Americans.
The conflagration spread over the beautiful country of the Illinois, by a colonel Clark of Virginia, equally awakes compassion, and was a counterbalance for the sufferings of the miserable Wyomings. It is true the Illinois, and other distant warlike tribes, were at the instigation of governor Hamilton,* the British commander at Detroit, generally assisting in the measures perpetrated under Butler and Brandt, nearer the frontiers; and perhaps the law of  retaliation may, in some measure, justify the depredations of Clark.
This intrepid ranger left Virginia in the course of this summer, with a few adventurers hardy as himself, and traversed a country of eleven or twelve hundred miles in extent: and surmounting all the hardships that imagination can paint, through a wilderness inhabited only by strolling hunters from among the savages, and the wild beasts that prowled before them, through hunger, fatigue, and sufferings innumerable, they reached the upper Mississippi. The Indian inhabitants, who had there long enjoyed a happy climate, and the fruits of a fertile soil, under a high degree of cultivation, fearless of danger from their distance from civilized neighbours, were surprised by Clark and his party; their crops were destroyed; their settlements broken up; their villages burnt, the principal of which was Kaskaskias. This town contained near three hundred houses; and had it not been surprised at midnight by these desperate invaders, bold, outrageous, and near starving in the wilderness, the natives might successfully have defended their lives and their plantations; but not a man escaped seasonably to alarm the neighbouring tribes.
A British officer, one Rocheblave, who acted as governor, and paymaster for American scalps, was taken and sent to Virginia, with many written proofs of the cruel policy of inciting  the fury of savages against the American settlements. From Quebec, Detroit, Michilimackinac, &c., these orders every where appeared under the signature of the chief magistrates, acting in the name of the British king. Some of their principal warriors were made prisoners; the remainder who escaped the sword, had only to fly farther through a trackless wilderness, if possible to procure some new lodgement, beyond the reach of civilized pursuers.
Nor did the Cherokees, the Muskingums, the Mohawks, and many other savage tribes, feel less severely than the Illinois, the resentment of the Americans, for their attachment to the British nation, and their cruelties practised on the borders of the Atlantic states.
An expedition entrusted to the conduct of general Sullivan, against the Six Nations, who had generally been better disposed toward Americans than most of the savage tribes, was replete with circumstances that must wound the feelings of the compassionate heart; while the lovers of cultivation and improvement among all mankind, will be touched by a retaliation, bordering, to say the least, on savage fury. The sudden and unexpected destruction of a part of the human species, enjoying domestic quiet in the simplicity of nature, awakes the feelings of the first: the second must be disturbed in his philosophical pursuits of cultivation  and improvement, when he contemplates fire and sword destroying all in their way, and houses too well built to be the workmanship of men in a state of rude nature, the prey of conflagration, enkindled by the hands of the cultivators of the arts and sciences.*
The rooting up of gardens, orchards, corn-fields, and fruit trees, which by their variety and growth, discovered that the industrious hand of cultivation had been long employed to bring them to perfection, cannot be justified; more especially where there is a mind capable of looking forward to their utility, and back to the time and labor it has cost to bring them to maturity. But general Sullivan, according to his own account in his letters to the commander in chief, to congress, to his friends and others, spared no vestige of improvement, and appeared little less proud of this war upon nature, than he was of his conquest of the savages.†
The difficulties, dangers, and fatigues of the march, required courage, firmness, and perseverance. Hunger and famine assailed them before they reached the fertile borders of the  pleasant and well settled Indian towns; yet general Sullivan and his party finished the expedition in as short a time as could be expected, and to all public appearance, met the approbation of congress and of the commander in chief.
Yet there were some things in the demeanor of general Sullivan, that disgusted some of his officers, and raised a censure on his conduct that made him unhappy, and led him to resign his military command. His health was indeed broken, which he imputed to the fatigues encountered on his hazardous march. Yet he lived many years after this period, and was advanced to the highest stations in the civil administration of the state of New Hampshire, and died with the reputation of a brave and active officer, both in military and civil life.
General Sullivan had acquitted himself during his military command with valor and reputation, in many instances. During the ravages of the British on the Jersey shore, in the latter part of the summer of one thousand seven hundred and seventy-seven, he had gained much honor by an expedition to Staten Island, concerted by himself. This he undertook without any orders from the commander in chief; and for this a court of inquiry was appointed to examine into his conduct. His reasons for such a step, without permission or command, were thought justifiable. He brought off a great number of  prisoners, officers, soldiers, and tories, who had frequently made incursions on the borders of the Jersies, and harassed, plundered, and murdered the inhabitants in their sudden depredations. It appeared that general Sullivan had conducted this business with great prudence and success: he was, by the court of inquiry, acquitted with honor and applause, for planning and executing to great advantage, a design from which so much benefit had resulted.
It may be thought by some, an apology sufficient for the invasion of Clark and Sullivan, of Pickens, Van Schaick, and others, that the hostile dispositions of the aboriginals had always led them to imbrue their hands in the blood of the borderers. The warriors of the distant tribes, either instigated by their own ferocity and resentment, or the influence of Europeans inimical to the United States, were ever ready to molest the young settlements. Jealous of their encroachments, the natives viewed them with such an hostile eye, that no treaties were binding: when a favorable opportunity presented, they always attacked the whites, perhaps from the same impulse that in human nature prompts all mankind, whether civilized or savage, to resist the invaders of his territory.
Indeed their condition and their sufferings, from the first emigration of the Europeans, their corruptions in consequence thereof, their  wars, and their extirpation from a vast tract of the American continent, must excite a solemn pause in the breast of the philosopher, while he surveys the wretchedness of savage life, and sighs over its misery. Yet he is not relieved when he contemplates the havoc among civilized nations, the changes in society, the prostration of principle, and the revolutions permitted by Providence in this speck of creation.
The rivers of blood through which mankind generally wade to empire and greatness, must draw out the tear of compassion; and every sympathetic bosom will commiserate the sufferings of the whole human race, either friends or foes, whether dying by the sword, sickness or remorse, under the splendid canopy reared by their own guilty hands. These with equal pity look into the wilderness; they see the naked hunter groaning out his fierce soul on his native turf, slain by the tomahawk of his own savage tribe, or wounded by some neighbouring hordes, that prowl through an existence little elevated above the brute. Both stages of society excite compassion, and both intimate to the rational mind, that this is but the road to a more improved, and exalted state of existence.
But the unhappy race of men hutted throughout the vast wilderness of America, were the  original proprietors of the soil; and if they have not civilization they have valor; if they have not patriotism they have a predilection to country, and are tenacious of their hunting grounds. However the generous or humane mind may revolt at the idea, there appears a probability, that they will be hunted from the vast American continent, if not from off the face of the globe, by Europeans of various descriptions, aided by the interested Americans, who all consider valor in an Indian, only as a higher degree of ferocity.
Their strenuous efforts to retain the boundaries assigned them by nature and providence, are viewed with contempt by those descriptions of persons, or rather as a sanction to their own rapacity, and a warrant from heaven to exterminate the hapless race. But “the rivers, the mountains, the deserts, the savages clad in armor, with other destroyers of men,” as well as the voice of heaven, and their natural boundaries, forbid these encroachments on the naked forester, content with the produce of nature in his own grounds, and the game that plays in his own wild woods, which his ancestors have possessed from time immemorial.
The ideas of some Europeans as well as Americans, that the rude tribes of savages cannot be civilized by the kind and humane endeavours of their neighbours, is absurd and unfounded . What were once the ancestors of the most refined and polite modern nations, but rude, ignorant savages, inured to all the barbarous customs and habits of present existing tribes? Nature has been equal in its operations, with regard to the whole human species. There is no difference in the moral or intellectual capacity of nations, but what arises from adventitious circumstances, that give some a more early and rapid improvement in civilization than others. This gradual rise from the rude stages of nature to the highest pitch of refinement, may be traced by the historian, the philosopher, and the naturalist, sufficiently to obviate all objections against the strongest efforts, to instruct and civilize the swarms of men in the American wilds, whose only natural apparent distinction, is a copper-colored skin. When the present war ceases to rage, it is hoped that humanity will teach Americans of a fairer complexion, to use the most strenuous efforts to instruct them in arts, manufactures, morals, and religion, instead of aiming at their extermination.
It is true at this period, when war was raging through all the United States, few of the tribes of the wilderness appeared to be contented with their own native inheritance. They were every where stimulated by the British government to hostility, and most of the inhabitants of the wilderness seemed to be in array  against their former colonies. This created a necessity in congress, to act offensively against the rude and barbarous nations. Defensive war against any nation, whether civilized or savage, is undoubtedly justifiable both in a moral and political view. But attempts to penetrate distant countries, and spread slaughter and bloodshed among innocent and unoffending tribes, too distant to awaken fears, and too simple and unsuspicious to expect approaching destruction from those they had never injured, has no warrant from Heaven.
Even in the present war, instances may be adduced of the effects of civilization, which often soften the most savage manners; one of which may be here recorded. A part of the Muskingum tribe had professed themselves Christians of the Moravian sect. They considered war of any kind as inconsistent both with the laws of religion and humanity. They refused to take any part with the numerous hostile tribes of savages, in the war against the Americans. They observed with more rationality and consideration than is generally discovered in more civilized nations, “that the Great Spirit did not make men to destroy, but to assist and comfort each other.”
They persisted in this placid demeanor, until some of their savage neighbours were so enraged, that they forcibly removed them from  their former settlement; and after committing great cruelties, and destroying a number of them, placed the remainder near the Sandusky. Their removal was in consequence of orders from the British commander at Detroit. They remained for some time in the enjoyment of their own simple habits; but some suspicions were afterwards infused among the settlers on the Monongahela, that their dispositions were not friendly to the Americans. It is painful to relate, that on this slight pretence, a number of Americans embodied themselves and marched to the Moravian town, where the principal men had repaired by permission, to reap the harvest they had left standing in the fields. The Americans followed them, and barbarously murdered the whole of this innocent and inoffensive band.
The whites at first decoyed them by a friendly appearance, which induced them to collect themselves together; when thus collected, they, without resistance, suffered themselves to be bound and inhumanly butchered. They died professing their full expectation, that their troubles would soon be at an end. Thus they fell as martyrs to religion, by the hands of a people who had much longer professed themselves adherents to the principles of Christianity.
This instance of the treachery and cruelty of the whites, is one among many other proofs, of  the truth of an observation made by a gentleman* afterwards,
that the white savages were generally more savage than the copper colored; and that nine times out of ten, the settlers on the borders were the aggressors: that he had seen many of the natives who were prisoners at fort Washington; that they appeared to be possessed of much sensibility and gratitude: that he had discovered some singular instances of this among them, very honorable to the human character, before the advantages or the examples of civilized nations had reached their borders.
In short, no arguments are necessary to adduce the truth, or impress on the minds either of the philosopher or the politician, that it will be the indispensable duty of the American government, when quietly established by the restoration of peace, to endeavour to soften and civilize, instead of exterminating the rude nations of the interior. This will undoubtedly be attempted in some future period, when uncultivated reason may be assisted; when arts, agriculture, science, and true religion, may enlighten the dark corners which have been obscured by ignorance and ferocity, for countless ages. The embrowned, dusky wilderness,  has exhibited multitudes of men, little distinguished from the fierce animals they hunted, except in their external form. Yet, in a few instances, the dignity of human nature has been discovered by traits of reason and humanity, which wanted only the advantages of education, to display genius and ability equal to any among the nations, that have hunted millions of those unhappy people out of existence, since the discovery of America by Europeans. But it is a pleasing anticipation, that the American revolution may be a means in the hands of Providence, of diffusing universal knowledge over a quarter of the globe, that for ages had been enveloped in darkness, ignorance, and barbarism.
[*]Before general Washington moved, he called a council of officers to consult on the expediency of attacking the British on their march. They were almost unanimously opposed to the measure, as the failure of success would be ruin to the American army. But the American commander, with two or three of his best officers, had no reluctance at hazarding the consequences of a general action.
[*]The court-martial adjudged, that he should retire from the army, and lie under suspension for one year. [Proceedings of Lee’s court martial are in Lee PapersIII: 1–208.]
[*]Even the British themselves acknowledged, that the Americans behaved with great spirit and intrepidity. In this action, a corps commanded by colonel Dearborn, acquitted themselves with such undaunted bravery, that they attracted particular notice. A southern officer of rank rode up to Mr. Dearborn, and inquired “who they were, and to what portion of America that regiment belonged?” The colonel replied in this laconic and soldierly manner:—“Full-blooded Yankees, by G—d, sir, from the state of New Hampshire.”
[*]Zealous to promote the same object, the commissioners of the navy-board at Boston, with great dispatch repaired, watered, victualled, and equipped the ships under the command of the count de Estaing. It not being practicable to return to Rhode Island, he in a few weeks after, sailed in complete order for the West Indies.
[*]The noble, disinterested sentiments of this gentleman, who was then aid-de-camp to general Washington, were exhibited in his reply to congress, who for his distinguished bravery in this and other actions, had advanced him to the rank of lieutenant colonel. Mr. Laurens’ acceptance would have superseded some officers in the family of the commander, earlier in commission. Apprehensive that it might create some uneasiness among them, he declined the honor. He observed, “that having been a spectator of the convulsions occasioned in the army by disputes of rank, he held the tranquillity of it too dear, to be instrumental in disturbing it.”
[*]Some jealousies had arisen while at Rhode island, on some points of etiquette between the count de Estaing and the commander of the American forces. These had been amicably adjusted: yet the pride of older military characters, had been too much hurt for the wound to be instantly healed.
[*]A number of refugees from the state of Massachusetts, aided Grey in depredations on their countrymen and former friends. From a regard to the feelings of some of their connexions, still living in America, we forbear to name them.
[*]See a particular detail of this transaction in the British Remembrancer, with the affidavits of the few soldiers that escaped the massacre. [See Grey to Clinton, September 18, 1778; Lord Sterling to ?, October 21, 1778; Affidavits; Remembrancer (1779), pp. 36–38; 292–293; 294–298.]
[*]The transactions at Wyoming are recorded above, agreeably to the most authentic accounts at the time.
[*]Governor Hamilton was afterwards captured by Clark.
[*]By the testimony of British writers, this description is not exaggerated. See their registers and histories.
[†]See general Sullivan’s account of this expedition on the public records, dated Sept. 30, 1779. [For Sullivan’s Official Report, September 30, 1779, see Journals of the Military Expedition of Major General John Sullivan Against the Six Nations of Indians in 1779 (Auburn, New York, 1887), pp. 296–306. Sullivan’s report was republished from the Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, October 19, 1779.]
[*]A young American officer of great sensibility and penetration, who fell at the battle at the Miamis, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one. [The reference is to Winslow Warren, Mercy’s favorite son, who served with General Arthur St. Clair’s corps against the Indians in Ohio. See editor’s Foreword, p. xx.]