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mingled with great prudence and discretion.* In a council of the officers, a great variety of opinions was expressed, as to the most eligible place for winter-quarters for the army. Washington, compelled to decide the question himself, fixed upon Valley Forge, as we have before stated; a deep and rugged valley, about twenty miles from Philadelphia; bounded on one side by the Schuylkill, and on the other by ridges of hills. The soldiers were too miserably deficient in suitable clothing, to be exposed to the inclement winter under tents merely: it was therefore determined that a sufficient number of huts should be erected, to be made of logs, and filled in with mortar, in which they would find a more effectual shelter. The whole army began its march towards Valley Forge,

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in the middle of December: some of the soldiers were seen to drop dead with cold; others, without shoes, had their feet cut by the ice, and left their tracks in blood. After the most painful efforts, the troops at length reached their destined quarters. They immediately set about constructing their habitations upon a regular plan. In a short time, the barracks were completed, and the soldiers lodged with some slight degree of comfort. It is impossible, however, to express in words, the intense suffering which the army was called upon to endure at Valley Forge. Utterly destitute of almost every thing necessary to support life; tattered and half-naked; some few of the soldiers had one shirt; many only the moiety of one; and the greater part, none at all. Numbers of these brave men, for want of shoes, were compelled to go barefoot over the frozen ground. Few, if any, had blankets for the night. Great numbers sickened; others, unfitted for service by the cold and their nakedness, were excused by their officers from all military duty, and either remained in

* It was in December, 1777, that Mr. Bushnell, the inventor of the American torpedo and other submarine machinery, set afloat in the Delaware a contrivance which frightened the British not a little. This was a squadron of kegs, charged with powder, to explode on coming in contact with any thing. The ice prevented the success of this contrivance, but as a boat was blown up, and some of the kegs exploded, the British at Philadelphia, not knowing what dreadful affairs might be in the water, fired at every thing they saw during the ebb tide. For Mr. Hopkinson’s “Battle of the Kegs,” we refer the reader to Appendix II., at the end of the present chapter.

f It is not pleasant to put it on record, but the iegislature of Pennsylvania, vexed at the loss of Philadelphia, found it in their hearts to complain of Washington going into winter-quarters. This drew from him some pretty plain words on this point: “We find gentlemen, without knowing whether the army was really going into winter-quarters or not, reprobating the measure as much as if they thought that the soldiers were made of stocks or stones, and equally insensible of frost and snow ; and moreover, as if they conceived it easily practicable for an inferior army, under the disadvantages I have de

scribed ours to be, which are by no means exaggerated, to confine a superior one, in all respects well appointed, and provided for a winter's campaign, within the city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depredation and waste, the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. I can assure these gentlemen, that it is a much easier and less distressing thing, to draw remonstrances in a comfortable room, by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow, without clothes or blankets. However, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul I pity those miseries, which it is neither in my power to relieve nor prevent.”

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established, the excessive penury of every kind of furniture, and the multitude of sick that crowded them, speedily produced its natural result. The hospital fever broke out in them, and daily swept off the vigorous and more active, as well as the feeble and worndown defender of his native land. It was not possible to remedy this sad state of things, by needful changes of linen, for they were utterly unprovided in this respect; nor by a more salubrious diet, when the coarsest was scarcely attainable; nor even by medicines, which were either absolutely wanting, or of the worst quality, and adulterated through the shameless cupidity of the contractors: for such, in general, as has been justly said, has been the nature of these furnishers of armies, that they should rather be denominated the artisans of Scarcity;

they have always preferred money to the life of the soldier. Hence it was, that the American hospital resembled more a receptacle for the dying than a refuge for the sick: far from restoring health to the diseased, it more often proved mortal to the well. This pestilential den was the terror of the army. The soldiers preferred perishing with cold in the open air, to being buried alive in the midst of the dead. Whether it was the effect of inevitable necessity, or of the avarice of men, it is but too certain, that an untimely death carried off many a brave soldier, who, with better attentions, might have been preserved for the defence of his country in its distress. Certainly nothing could be imagined to equal the sufferings which the American army had to undergo in the course of this winter, except the almost superhuman firmness with which they bore them. A small number, it is true, Seduced by the royalists, deserted their colors, and slunk off to the British army in Philadelphia; but these were, for the most part, Europeans, who had entered the continental service. The true-born Americans, supported by their patriotism, and by their profound veneration and love for Washington, displayed invincible perseverance; they chose rather to suffer all the extremes of famine, and of frost, than to violate, in this dark hour of peril, the faith they had pledged to their country. Had Howe possessed enterprise enough to attack the patriot army at this time, disastrous must have been the consequences. Without military stores, and without provisions, how could the field anew, in the midst of so rigorous a season, was become for them an absolute impossibility. On the 1st of February, 1778, four thousand of the troops were incapable of any kind of service, for want of clothing. The condition of the rest was very little better. In a word, out of the eleven or twelve thousand men that were in camp, it would have been difficult to muster five thousand fit for duty. The reader cannot fail to have been surprised, that the army should have been deficient in supplies of food, in a country abounding with provisions. A few words of explanation seem to be needed, to account for such a fact. Early in the war, the office of commissary-general had been conferred on Colonel Trumbull, of Connecticut, a gentleman well fitted for that important station. Yet, from the difficulty of arranging so complicated a department, complaints were repeatedly made of the insufficiency of supplies. The subject was taken up by Congress; but the remedy administered, served only to increase the disease. The system was not completed till near midsummer; and then its arrangements were such, that Colonel Trumbull refused the office assigned to him. The new plan contemplated a number of subordinate officers, all to be appointed by Congress, and neither accountable to, or removable by, the head of the department. This arrangement, which was made in direct opposition to the opinion of the commander-in-chief, drove

Americans have defended their en- Colonel Trumbull from the army. Contrenchments? Besides, to enter the gress, however, persisted in the system;


and its effects were not long in unfolding themselves. In every military division of the continent, loud complaints were made of the deficiency of supplies. The armies were greatly embarrassed, and their movements suspended, by the want of provisions. The present total failure of all supply was preceded by issuing meat unfit to be eaten. Representations on this subject had been made to the commander-in-chief, and communicated to Congress. That body had authorized him to seize provisions for the use of his army within seventy miles of head-quarters, and to pay for them in money or in certificates. The odium of this measure was increased by the failure of government to provide funds to take up these certificates when presented. At the same time, the provisions carried into Philadelphia, were paid for in specie at a fair price. The temptation was too great to be resisted. Such was the dexterity employed by the inhabitants in eluding the laws, that notwithstanding the vigilance of the troops stationed on the lines, they often succeeded in concealing their provisions from those authorized to impress for the army, and in conveying them to Philadelphia. Washington, urged on by Congress, issued a proclamation, requiring all the farmers within seventy miles of Valley Forge, to thresh out one half of their grain by the 1st of February, and the rest by the 1st of March, under the penalty of having the whole seized as straw. Many farmers refused, defended their grain and cattle with muskets and rifle, and in some in

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