« PreviousContinue »
veteran troops, and their present critical situation did not permit time for changes of trained men for new levies, which for some time could be of little service: To remedy this evil for the future, which could not be guarded against at present, the congress issued orders about the middle of September for levying 88 battalions, the soldiers being bound by the terms of enlistment to serve during the continuance of the war.
The number of battalions which each colony was by this ordinance appoinred to raise and snpport, may be considered as nearly an exact political scale of their comparative strength, framed by those who were interested in its correctness, and well acquainted with their respective circumstances. Mafsachusett's Bay and Virginia were the highest in the scale, being to furnish 15 battalions each ; Pennsylvania came next, and was rated at 12, North Carolina 9; Connecticut and Maryland 8 each ; New York and the Jerfies each 4, the latter being considered as one government.-This was the present compliment of men to be raised to make up a itanding army during the continuance of the war, and when full, were thought fufficient for any emergency, It must be allowed that the congress took every rational itep to form this
, the army when raised did not disappoint their expectations. Money was not wanted, nor any encourageinent that could be given to animate the spirits of the people to enlist.
The liberality of the congress in its encourage. ment to the trooss, was proportioned to the neceffity of speedily completing the new army. They not only gave a bounty of twenty dollars to each foldier at the time of enlifting, but allotted lands at the end of the war to such as furyived, and to the representatives
of all that should happen to be slain in battle in different stated proportions, from 500 acres, the allotment of a Colonel, to. 150, which was that of an Ensign ; the private men and the non-commisfioned officers were to have 100 acres each. -To prevent the thoughtless, the prodigal, or worthless, obtaining for trifles what was due to the brave and meritorious, for their blood and services, all these lands were rendered unalienable during the war, no aflignment being to be admitted at its conclusion. The congress had before, as an encouragement to their forces, decreed, that all their officers, by fea or land, who were or might be disabled in action, should receive during life, one half of the monthly pay to which they were entitled by their rank in the service, at the time of their mee.ing with the misfortune. Though thefe, encouragements were great, yet it appears as if the condition of serving during the war was not generally agreeable to a people so little accustomed to any kind of subordination and restraint. So that in the month of November the congress found it necessary to admit of another mode of enlisting for the term of three years. This was certainly more reasonable, though perhaps it might not answer the purpose of a standing army so well. According to this new mode, the folm diers were to receive the same bounty with others, but were cut out from any allotments of lands. It has been affirmed by the people at home that even after all these encouragements that the business of recruiting went on slowly. But this does not at all appear; for when the time of action called them forth, we do not find that their armies were deficient and even the British minister in the fenate affirmed, though
afterwards lie changed his tone, that they were două
The reason of making promises of land to the foldi.
unknown in America, excited the greater horror ; the people being well aware, from the experience of other countries, that if the sweets of forfeiture were once tasted, it would be equally happy and unusual if any other limits than those which nature had assigned, could restrain its operation. The annual fupplies raised in the colonies by their respective af: femblies being insufficient to provide for the extraordinary expences of for large an army, together with other -numerous contingencies infeparable from such a war; the congress found it neceffary to negociate a loan to answer these purposes. They accordingly passed a re.folution to borrow five millions of dollars at an interest -of four per cent, and to pledge the faith of the United States for the payment of both principal and intereft.
The wisdom and prudence of the congress did not forsake them in the time of the greatest hardships ;--they alsays found expedients and resources answerable to the exigencies of their affairs. In this critical
situation of their country, when the prefervation of their country, and the preservation of Philadelphia was almost hopeless, and a time when Lord Cornwal. lis had over-run the Jerfies, and the British forces had taken possession of the towns and posts on the Delaware, the congress published an address to the people in general, but more particularly to those of Philadelphia and the neighbouring states. The intention of this address was to awaken the attention of the people, remove their despondency, renew their hopes and spirits, and confirm their intentions of supporting the war, by thewing that no other means were left for the preservation of their rights and liberties, for which they originally contended. But it was principally designed to promote the completing of the new army, and to call out the inhabitants to the defence of Philadelphia. For these purposes they enumerated the causes of the troubles, the grievances they had endured, the late oppressive laws that had been passed against them; they infifted much- upon the contempi that had been thrown upon their petitions and applia cations for redress of grievance; and to thew that no alternative but war, or a tame submission and resigna
tion of all that could be dear to mankind; they afferta ed, that even the boarted commissioners for giving peace to America had not offered nor did yet offer, any terms but pardon upon absolute submission.-From this detail and these premises they deduced the necessity of the act of independency, affirming that it would have been impossible for them to have defended their rights against so powerful an aggreffor, aided by large arnies of foreign mercenaries, or to have obtained that assistance from other states, which was abfolutely neceffary to their preservation, whilst they
acknowledged the sovereignty, and confessed them: selves subjects of that power against which they had taken up arms, and were engaged in so cruel a war.-They set forth the success that had in general attended their cause and exertions, contending that the present state of weakness and danger did not proceed from any actual loss or defeat, or from any defect of valour in their troops, but merely from the expiring of the terms of those short enlistments, which had in the beginning been adopted from an attention to the ease of the people. They assured them that foreign states had already rendered them essential services, and had given them the most positive assurances of further aid. And they excited the indignation of the people by expatiating upon the unrelenting, cruel, and inhuman manner in which the war was carried on, not only by the auxiliaries, bụt even by the Bri ish forces themselves. They insisted, with an energy peculiar to men sensible of fo great an injury, upon the behaviour of the British men and officers, in murdering the de. fenceless, plundering the innocent, ravishing women, and destroying infants. The colouring on this occafion might poslibly be too strong, but it has been allowed on all hands that there was too much reason for complaints of this kind. This odium first fell on the Hessians, and fince that time has rested upon them, though the British troops were far from escaping a share of this imputation, The former being naturally fierce, cruel, and ignorant of the rights of mankind, were acquainted with no laws but those of despotism, and with no manners, except those established within the narrow confines of their own government, knew no distinction between ravaging and plundering an enemy's country, where no present advantage was