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"The letter you will receive with this, contains my sentiments with respect to your present station; but, besides this, I have reasons for most earnestly wishing to have you, where the principal scene of action is laid. I do not mean to flatter you, at the expense of any other, but I confess I do think, that it is entirely owing to you, that this army and the liberties of America, so far as they are dependant on it, are not totally cut off. You have decision, a quality often wanting in minds otherwise valuable; and I ascribe to this, our escape from York Island, from Kingsbridge, and the Plains; and I have no doubt, had you been here, the garrison of Mount Washington would now have composed a part of this army; and from all these circumstances, I confess I ardently wish to see you removed from a place, where, I think there will be little call for your judgment and experience, to that where they are likely to be so necessary. Nor am I singular in my opinion; every gentleman of the family, and the officers and soldiers generally, have a confidence in you. The enemy constantly inquire where you are, and seem to me to be less confident, when you are present. Colonel Cadwallader has been liberated from New-York, and he informs me that the enemy have a southern expedition in view, and that they hold us very cheap in consequence of the late affair at Fort Washington, where both the plan of defence and execution, were contemptible. If a real defence of the lines was intended, the number was too few; if the fort only, the garrison was too numerous by half. General Washington's own judgment, seconded by representations from us, would, I believe, have saved the men and their arms; but unluckily General Greene's judgment was contrary. This kept the General in a state of suspense till the stroke was struck. Oh General! an indecisive mind is one of the greatest misfortunes which can befall an army: how often have I lamented it this campaign. All circumstances considered, we are in a very awful and alarming state, one that requires the utmost wisdom and firmness of mind. I conclude, with my clear and explicit opinion, that your presence is of the last importance," &c.*

Hackensack, November 21st, 1776.

The letter of General Wayne, the other person to whom we alluded, was addressed to General Gates, is a year later in date than Read's, and shows, that the indecision, which was our affliction in 1776, had by no means diminished in 1777.


"Camp at White Marsh, Nov. 21, 1777.

"I most sincerely congratulate you on the unparalleled success of our arms under your conduct, which has surpassed even our most sanguine hopes, and which must, eventually, save this (otherwise) devoted

* Memoirs of the Life of General Charles Lee, p. 178.

country. Fortune, to us, has proved a fickle goddess, although at one time she wore a pleasing aspect; but, like some other females, changed for the first new face she saw. I cannot say we treated her so kindly as she deserved; we slighted, in an idle moment, some of her best favours. I wish we had not done it more than once-for she more than once presented them. Before the battle of Brandywine, we had a most delightful opening. We neglected making the proper use of it; and in the great valley, the enemy took and remained in the most injudicious camp that ever troops sat down in. The hills, on each side, not more than a mile asunder-the enemy in the hollow, and the strongest ground I ever saw, with the Schuylkill in front, and unfordable, and the country [behind] open to receive us, in case of misfortune. We risked but little, the enemy their all. At Germantown, again, fortune smiled on our arms for near three hours, -the enemy broke, dispersed and flying in all quarters, and we in possession of their whole encampment, together with their artillery, park, &c. &c. A wind-mill attack was made on a house, into which six companies of light infantry had thrown themselves to avoid our bayonets. This gave the enemy time to rally. Our troops were deceived by the attack, thought it something formidable, and fell back to assist in what they deemed a serious affair. The enemy, finding themselves no longer pursued, and believing it to be a retreat, followed. Confusion ensued, and we ran away from the arms of victory ready open to receive us. We have lost Fort Mifflin, alias Mud Island, after an investment of six weeks, and without any attempt to raise the siege; the consequence of which will be, the loss of all our other works and shipping in the river, and will give easy winter quarters to Mr. Howe and his army, whilst we shall be reduced to the hard necessity of making a winter campaign in the open field, with naked troops, or give up the greatest part of this once happy state to be subjugated and laid under contribution. I have thus given you a true picture of our present situation, over which we must draw a veil until our arms produce one more lovely, which I do not yet despair of, if our worthy General will but follow his own good judgment, without listening too much to some councils.* I am,"

&c. &c.

Our inference from these letters is,-not that Read and Wayne had joined a conspiracy against the lawful authority of Washington, and, under this impulse, had spoken disrespectfully of the talents and services of this officer,—but that, being men of independent character and feelings, and having only the public good in view, they believed it to be at once their right and their duty to speak of him and of them as they were, "nothing extenuating, nor setting down aught in ma

*Wilkinson's Memoirs.

lice;" and that the very fact of their having made Lee and Gates the depositories of these several and confidential opinions, is the purest evidence of their own belief, that neither the one nor the other of these officers, had any view of supplanting the Commander in Chief in public trust or in public opinion.

The anecdote told by the younger Lee, in his Memoirs of the Southern War, is the last in this series of pretended proofs, and is not, as we shall show, more deserving of credit than its predecessors. The reader will recollect that it asserts three things--that Gates, after the affair of Saratoga, tampered with Morgan, with a view of detaching him from the support of Washington; that Morgan warmly resented this treatment; and that Gates, to punish him for having done so, omitted to name him in his official letter to congress. But even this is not enough for our biographer; and in his improved version of the story, instead of a slight and temporary estrangement, as suggested by Lee, an inveterate hatred takes possession of Gates, which is only extinguished by death!

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On these several assertions we remark-1st, that Gates's overture, whatever was its form, must have been of very dubious character; since Lee (who was no friend to Gates) qualifies Morgan's opinion of it, by the words as he considered it;" thus evidently admitting, that it was susceptible of another and different construction, from that put upon it by Morgan. 2d. That the omission to mention this officer, in the letter carried by Wilkinson, proves nothing, by proving too much—as no other officer of the army, the bearer of the letter excepted, was mentioned in it. 3d. That the lasting hatred' imputed to Gates, showed itself only in respectful and friendly attentions; for when designated, in 1780, to the command of the Southern department, the General stipulated only two conditions-the exclusive nomination of his own staff, and the appointment and service of Morgan, as a brigadier under his command. The adoption of this arrangement, found him (Morgan) a chief out of place, and somewhat discontented; but on the first summons, he hastened to join the standard of his old and affectionate leader, and as is sufficiently known, was promptly assigned, by him, to the command of the light troops. 4th. That nothing was heard of this anecdote, in the years 1777, '8, (when it would, no doubt, have been the subject of much private and public curiosity,)

nor, until after the decease of the two persons, who alone could have verified or disproved it: And again, that, in 1813, General Lee admitted that the story was not obtained from Morgan himself, but from some one whose name was not then recollected; and that his third volume should be open to any proper qualification or correction of the statement. He accordingly, in a letter of the 17th July, 1815, (written at Havannah,) recalls the attention of his correspondent to the subject, in the following words: "While in Charlestown, I wish "to finish the last volume of my work, and therefore remind you of your promise to furnish me with your memorandum "of the affair mentioned by you."

With regard to the members of congress, whom our author includes in the guilt of this conspiracy, as nothing specific is charged, so nothing can be particularly answered. But of them, it may not be amiss to remark generally, that in point either of usefulness or reputation, they were not inferior to any equal number of their associates; and that compared with the names of Samuel Adams, R. H. Lee, and James Wilson-that of William Johnson shrinks into nothing. Delegated by their States respectively, to exercise their several portions of the national sovereignty, it necessarily became part of their functions to judge of military character and conduct; and if those of General Washington were not such as they could conscientiously approve, what was the duty imposed upon them? Not, assuredly, to yield themselves to prejudice and party-but, on the other hand, to speak their sentiments honestly and openly. We do not here assert, (nor are we called upon to do so,) that the opinions entertained by them on this subject, were all essentially correct; but that whatever they may have been, theirs was the right to form and to deliver them, not merely in their representative capacity, but as separate and individual members of the community also; and that without this right, the government of the Union would have been as much a despotism as the government of Turkey.

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We now hasten to our second subject-an examination of the grounds on which our author asserts, that about the close of the war of the revolution, the boldest and most porten'tous intrigue took place, that ever threatened the liberties of 'this country' which, says he, had for its object the sub'stitution of a military despotism for our present free institu

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⚫tions; and which was more deeply and dangerously combined, ' than historians appear to be aware of.'

As we are now far removed from the period, to which this pretended intrigue must be considered as belonging, we hope to be able to treat the subject with the most rigorous impartiality, neither denying nor dissembling, on the one hand, any thing which can be fairly brought to sustain the charge; nor, on the other, admitting any thing of that kind, which cannot be clearly and distinctly established. And happy shall we be, if, upon this occasion, we shall have it in our power to efface from the annals of America, a scandal, founded in error and nurtured by party, and which, but for its apparent connexion with the fame of Washington, would have been long since consigned to contempt and oblivion.


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We have already shown, that Mr. Johnson has been less careful in making his assertions, and in scrutinizing his proofs, than becomes a writer of biography; and it will be seen, in the present case, that it is even possible for him to arrive at a conclusion, with which his premises have nothing to do. At page 397 of the Sketches, vol. 2d, we are told of an insidious attempt, intended on the fidelity of General Greene,' and, in the next page follows a developement, which would fasten the offence on the late Gouverneur Morris. It seems, that in rummaging that enormous pile of original papers, which made the felicity of our author for nearly eight years, one or more letters of the assistant financier were found-apparently filled with common-place remarks on the deficient authority of congress, and hints at the necessary consequences of this, to creditors both military and civil; but really containing, according to Mr. Johnson, some deep, and hidden, and flagitious meanings, which might escape both observation and censure, but for a free use of those typographical fingerboards, commonly called italics, and which, in dexterous hands, become ample and able commentaries on dark and doubtful passages.

To give the reader an opportunity of judging of the whole ground, the nature of the offence, as well as the means employed to illustrate and apply it, we shall quote all the extracts furnished by Mr. Johnson, verbatim et punctuatim.

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