網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Valentine's hill ; either his own want of forage might induce him to such a movement, or to prevent us from bringing in this article.

A number of Artillery horses arrived yesterday from the Highlands, in the Rebel Camp. The Conductor of them was heard to enquire for the waggon M'* General, for his orders about the distribution of them.

Agreeable to the accounts of some inhabitants in the neighborhood of the camp, it was expected that the Enemy's army, or a part of it, would have moved yesterday afternoon; † a great deal of their baggage having been loaded ; also that they were fixing and mending the roads towards Young's Wright's Mills, and the post road towards Croton.

P. S. No magazines are known to be made, or making in their rear : all provisions and stores come by water to Tarrytown · and is rather a temporary supply. I

I am &c

Marquard To Maj' De Lancey

Copy of a letter from W. H.S to MajDe Lancey, 15"" July 1781. Sir

It is not my fault that you have not heard from me before now. I left two packets at the place appointed for Bulkley to take them ; one of the 28th Ult", the other of the 4th Ins! When I came to the place the second time I was surprized to find the first packet there ; but more so now when I found both there unmoved.||

Soon after my return home from New York, I had an interview with our friend, and after acquainting him of the nature of those services expected from him (at

* The “Waggon Master-General" here referred to is believed to have been Joseph Thornburgh, whom Congress on 18th June, 1777, resolved should “have the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Army of the United States.” Journal, 1777, p. 170, ed. of 1823.

“Yesterday afternoon" was the afternoon of the 14th of July, 1781, under which date, in his Journal, Washington says: “Near 5,000 men being ordered to march for Kingsbridge to cover and secure a reconnoitre of the enemy's works on the No. end of York Island, Harlaem River, & the Sound, were prevented doing so by incessant rain."

"E. B.,” who furnished the information in this letter, was the Elias Benedict mentioned before in entry of 7th June, and note thereto.

S William Heron, of Reading, Ct., the member of the Connecticut Legislature who was in communication with the British during the war. The italics in this letter are underscored in the MS. See final note to entry of 2d February, 1781, ante, for a sketch of Heron.

It is to be regretted that some mischance seems to have befallen these two “packets" of Heron's of 28th June, and 4th July, 1781, or rather the means of sending them to Clinton, or they would have appeared in this volume of his “ Private Intelligence," to the great advantage of students of American history, and of a correct knowledge of military affairs in the early summer of 1781. See ante, second entry of June 2oth. for mention of the means and method of sending letters by Heron to the British headquarters (Mag. Am. Hist. Vol. XI. pp. 348, 349).

least as far as I could recollect the heads of the Queries you last showed me) we concerted measures for his conveying to me every material article of intelligence.* The enclosed is the first essay of the kind, which serves to show the manner and the stile in which he is to write,-as to a confidential friend, anxious to know those matters and occurences, which may in anywise affect the cause of the country.f

One thing he said in the course of our conversation which convinces me that I am not deceived by him ; that is, when he talked about his son, he said, were he brought into New York, he wished that some provision may be made for him in the British Navy, to serve in Europe during the present contest. This is a fact, which will enable you to judge of him for yourself. I

I expected to have been able to furnish him e'er this time with that paper you showed me last, containing the several heads of those matters to which you wished to have a clear and explicit answer. He readily agreed to pay the strictest attention to them. He will expect some money by me this time, but how to get it here I know not; as I would not wish to have any person besides yourself, or those you can confide in, made acquainted with anything of that nature.

The bearer will acquaint you where I am concealed, but it is not a proper place for me to see any body; not that I have anything to fear from the family, but from the Neighbors. ||

I came here under the sanction of a commission from Governor Trumbull to cruise in the Sound. I am sorry I ever attempted to meddle with this plan of a commercial nature; this is the first essay, and I believe it will be the last. I entered upon it purely to draw in our friend : but I am sensible it is attended with more trouble and vexation to you, as well as danger to me, than it can be of real advantage to me, otherwise than that I know it is serving the cause of government essentially. So thoroughly are our leaders on the other side convinced of the truth of this assertion, that the severest laws are passed against it.

* The queries referred to will be found in the above mentioned second entry of 20th June, 1751.

+ The “enclosed" letter, given below, is evidently written to see if the manner of communicatiny intelligence thus "concerted" between Parsons and Heron, would be satisfactory to Clinton. The plan was, for Parsons to write to Heron as to a friend of the American cause, and Heron was to send his letters to Clinton. This protected the former perfectly in case of a discovery, Heron being known as a Whig member of the Connecticut Legislature in good standing. It was certainly a shrewd arrangement.

This “son” whom General Parsons wished to be provided for in the British navy was named “Enoch.” Hinman's Connecticut in the Am. Revolution, 419.

$ The queries in the entry of 20th June, above-mentioned.
| The "here” was probably some place in Queens County, Long Island.

T These Commissions of Gov. Trumbull in 1781 are thus noted in his own Diary :-
“ 1781" Jany 25th. A whaleboat commission to Capt. Joshua Griffith.

Feb. 26. Commission granted for schooner Weasel and Capt. Hale's whaleboats, to cruise agst. the enemy and Illicit trade, under direction of Capt. Wm. Ledyard.

"March 24th. Granted liberty of commission of whaleboat to Abner Ely

I was at M" K- p's seasonable enough to acquaint you of the movement of the troops to Kingsbridge, and of the French troops changing or shifting their first intended route for that purpose ; but M" K- p* was not returned home then.

The number of French troops is between 4 and 5000, and the late daily issues to the Continental army was about 7,300 Rations. In this calculation the Staff, Artificers, Waggoners, &c., are included. This I had yesterday from a person in the issuing Commissary's Department. The Jersey and the New York line, which

“ April 4th. Common commission for Whale Boat given John Waterman-sent by Mr. Torreypd £3.

“May Ioth. Gave commission to Capt. Elisha Hart, sloop Restoration, 10 guns." Quoted in Stuart's Life of Trumbull, 550. If all are given by Stuart, Heron's boat must have been one of the above.

These Connecticut whaleboat men, under these commissions of Gov. Trumbull, plundered and treated friends and foes without distinction, outside of Connecticut, with the greatest cruelty. All New Yorkers were considered by them as legitimate prey, no matter to which side they belonged. So wicked and savage were these piracies that the CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, to whose attention they were brought by letters of Gov. Clinton of New York (on the ist and 5th July, 1781, fifteen, and ten days, only, previous to this letter of Heron), on the 7th of August, 1781, severely condemned them and at once desired Trumbull to revoke the commissions; and that, too, on a report from a committee of three, of whom two were from New England, one of the two being from Connecticut itself. From this fact alone, without citing instances, an opinion can be formed of the great iniquities perpetrated under them by these “patriots” of Connecticut. The report is as follows:

* TUESDAY, August 7, 1781.—The report of a committee, consisting of Mr. Mathews, Mr. Varnum, Mr. Ellsworth, to whom were referred letters of the ist and 5th of July, from the Goyernor of New York,

It appearing to Congress from the representations of Governor Clinton and other information, that commissions have been granted by the governor of the State of Connecticut, for the purpose of suppressing commerce from the enemy into that state, authorizing the persons to whom these commissions are granted, among other things, to go to Long Island and other islands adjacent and seize the goods and merchandise they should there find, the property of British subjects; and that the said commissions are attended with many abuses dangerous to the public, as well as distressing to citizens and friends of these United States inhabiting said islands, some of whom, under pretext of the powers contained in such commissions, have been plundered of their property, and otherwise evil treated ; and that the further continuance of said commissions would impede the public Service in that quarter ; therefore,

Resolved, That the Governor of the State of Connecticut be, and he is hereby, desired immediately to revoke the said commissions, by him granted, so far as they authorize the seizure of goods on Long Island, or elsewhere on land not within the State of Connecticut." Journals Congress, 1781-2, p. 165 (Patterson, Printer).

* Knapp, who seems to have lived at no great distance from Horseneck, was an agent of Heron in his communications with the British. Perhaps Knapp, a tavern keeper there after the war, was the man.

So immediate, accurate, and almost official, was the intelligence Clinton had of the strength of the allied armies at White Plains. As the French were 5,000, this shows conclusively that the actual strength of the allied armies on paper was just 12, 300 men, all told. Deducting 1,300 for non-combatants of all kinds in both services (a small allowance) we have 11,000 only as the fighting numbers of the allies. Yet, Clinton, with a force at least 25 per cent. greater, never even

will amount to about 2,300 men, are (I judge) by this time joined. West Point is to be garrisoned by the militia.

Should any money be sent our friend, it will be best to put it up in something like a belt.

I am, &c.,

W. H. P.S. I thought it advisable to cut the name off the enclosed.

Our friend manifested a wish that a cask of wine may be sent: however, I gave him not the least encouragement.*

Copy of a letter from G 'P. to W. H.
Enclosed in the foregoing.

Camp, Phillipsburgh, 8th July, 1781. D' Sir

We have now taken a camp within about 12 miles of Kingsbridge where I expect we shall continue until we know whether the states will in any considerable degree comply with the requisitions made of them, altho' we believe ourselves able to maintain our ground. You may easily conjecture what our future prospects are, when I assure you the five Regiments of our State $ are more than 1,200 men deficient of their complement; and the other States (except Rhode Island and New York who are fuller) nearly in the same condition. S

The right of the front line is cominanded by me, consisting of Connecticut and Rhode Island troops : the left by General Lincoln, consisting of the brigades cf Massachusetts. The 2nd line, one brigade of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, commanded by General Howe.ll General McDougall commands at West Point.

attempted to attack them, either before, or after, their junction. Was there ever a greater instance of military incapacity? or had he private reasons for not doing so ?

* This wish was similar to that in 1782 of another (but a New York) general of note in the Revolution who had a special fondness for Madeira. See IX. Penna. Archives, p. 675.

¢ "G- P. to W. H.” General Parsons to William Heron." $ Connecticut.

$ Parsons writes this on July 8, 1781. Thirteen days later, on the 20th, Washington gives the following account of the military department to Samuel Huntington in Congress : “That department is yet laboring under every difficulty and distress, and there seems to me little chance of its being relieved from the debility to which it is reduced ; for, notwithstanding my previous requisitions, and the more pressing occasion there is for recruits at this moment, I may almost say I have not received one man since my last demand." VIII. Sparks, 115. The “last demand" was on the 24th May, 1781.

Parsons here gives the American front line, as it was at the date of this letter, July 8th, two days after the junction of the allied armies, and before a more permanent arrangement could have been made. Later the two lines were extended, enlarged, and the commands somewhat changed. The account of the two lines, however, given on the 18th, ten days later, by John Hubbill (entry of that date post) agrees with this letter of Parsons, except that Hubbill gives no names of the commanders

When the York forces join he will be relieved, which I expect will be soon, when I suppose he will take the right of the first line, and I shall be in the center : but this is yet uncertain.

Our magazines are few in number, as well as very small; your fears for them are groundless. They are principally at West Point, Fishkill, Wapping's Creek & Newburgh, which puts them out of the enemys power, except they attempt their destruction by a force sufficient to secure the Highlands (which at present they cannot do) our guards at the magazines being sufficient to secure them from small parties.

As the object of the Campaign is the reduction of New York,* we shall now effectually try the patriotism of our country-men, who have always given us assurances of assistance when this should become the object: Of this I have had my doubts for several years, and wished it put to the test. +

The Minister of France is in Camp, I and the French troops yesterday encamped on our left, near the Tuckey-hoe road. Their number I have not had opportunity to ascertain.

The cther matters of information you wish, I shall be able to give you in a few days. The messenger waits.

I am D' Sir

y! Obed? Serv! S

* Such really was the object until August 14, 1781, five weeks later, when Washington was com pelled to give it up and adopt in its stead the movement to Virginia. See note to entry of 17th June (vol. ix., p. 343), stating the facts which compelled that movement.

+ If Parsons was sincere in this statement, the result showed that his “doubts for several years" were well founded, as we now have Washington's own word that the refusal and neglect of the Eastern States to respond to his calls for men was a main cause of his abandoning his long cherished plan of attacking New York. Washington's Journal under date of 14 August, 1881. VII. May. Am. Hist., 125. | Luzerne arrived on July 6th.

This letter of General Parsons of July 8th, was received, enclosed in the foregoing letter of Heron, at Clinton's headquarters in New York, and entered there on July 15, 1781.

The revelations in this “Private Intelligence" as to General Parsors are as extraordinary as they are painful. As this MS. volume of Clinton's “ Private Intelligence" ends on July 19, 1781, four days later, no other direct communication appears in it from General Parsons. What may have appeared in the succeeding volume cannot be known, unless it should turn up hereafter. The present volume shows conclusively that he was, while a Major-General in the American Army, and the Senior General officer of the Connecticut troops in that army, in secret communication with the enemy, and furnished them intelligence ; and this, too, only a few months after the treason of Benedict Arnold, and, as one of his judges, voting, and rightly, for the guilt and death of André.

The fact of such communication, however, does not depend upon the revelations of this volume of Clinton's Private Intelligence alone. It is very curiously corroborated by the following correspondence between British officers in the spring of 1781, which shows that he then had communications of some kind under cover of a flag. It shows, too, the dangers run in carrying on communications with an enemy, and somewhat amusingly illustrates Talleyrand's famous maxim in

« 上一頁繼續 »