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CHAP. IV. at the expiration of their present term of (ser. 1775. vice, and others, suspending all decision,
in their names to retire from the army, nor to continue in it.
The nature of the case not admitting delay, the general repeated his orders, with the addi. tion that the declaration must be explicit, and not conditional. “The times,” he added, “ and the importance of the great cause we are engaged in, allow no room for hesitation and delay. When life, liberty, and property, are at stake; when our country is in danger of being a melancholy scene of bloodshed, and desolation ; when our towns are laid in ashes, innocent women and children driven from their peaceful habitations, exposed to the rigours of an inclement season, to depend, perhaps, on the hand of charity for support; when calamities like these are staring us in the face, and a brutal savage enemy (more so than was ever yet found in a civilized nation) are threatening us, and every thing we hold dear, with des. truction from foreign troops; it little becomes the character of a soldier to shrink from danger, and condition for new terms. It is the general's intention to indulge both officers and soldiers who compose the new army, with furloughs for a reasonable time, but this must be done in such a manner as not to injure the service, or weaken the army too much at once.”
In this state of things, several officers, sup- CHAP.IV. posing that commissions and rank might 1775. depend on recruiting men, began, without permission, to inlist soldiers to serve particularly under them. This practice it was necessary to stop. All further inlistments, under particular officers, were forbidden until direc. October 31. tions to that effect should be given. “Com. missions in the army,” say the orders, “are not intended for those who can inlist the most men, but for such gentlemen as are most likely to deserve them. The general would not have it even supposed, nor our enemies encouraged to believe, that there is a man in this army (except a few under particular cir. cumstances) who will require to be twice asked to do what his honour, his personal liberty, the welfare of his country, and the safety of his family, so loudly demand of him. When motives powerful as these conspire to call men into service, and when that service is rewarded with higher pay than private soldiers ever yet received, in any former war, the general cannot, nor will not, until convinced to the contrary, harbour so despicable an opinion of their understanding, and their zeal for the cause, as to believe they will desert it.”
The troops were also assured, that clothes on reasonable terms were prepared “for those brave soldiers, who intended to continue in the service another year.”
Notwithstanding these exhortations, a disin. 1775. clination to make further engagements, espe
cially without knowing the officers by whom they were to be commanded, continued to be manifested by the privates.
At length, with much labour, the officers were arranged; immediately after which, re. cruiting orders were issued. After stating the terms of inlistment, and promising leave of absence for a reasonable time during the winter, which, however inconvenient, was an indulgence found to be indispensable, the general directed the officers, “ to be careful, , not to inlist any person suspected of being unfriendly to the liberties of America, or any abandoned vagabond, to whom all causes, and countries are equal, and alike indifferent. The rights of mankind, and the freedom of America would have numbers sufficient to support them, without resorting to such wretched assistance. Let those who wish to put shackles upon freemen, fill their ranks with, and place their confidence in, such miscreants.”
But the sufferings of the army for fuel, * clothes, and even provisions, had been great; and the new regiments did not fill with that rapidity which had been expected. Finding this, CHAP. IV. one officer from each company was employed 1775. to recruit in the country; but the progress Nov. 20. made was not such as the public exigencies demanded. The army was dissolving by the expiration of the time for which it had been inlisted, and men in sufficient number were not yet obtained, to take the places of those who, having performed the stipulated duty, insisted on returning home. The impatience to revisit their friends, discovered by the soldiers entitled to a discharge, was so extreme and ungovernable as to overcome all their solicitude for keeping the enemy in a state of blockade, and many of them could not be detained in camp even for ten days, at the end of which period, was expected the arrival of a body of militia which had been ordered to supply their places: nor was it without great difficulty, and some degree of violence, that any of them were prevailed on to remain for that time. This fact, however, did not sufficiently impress on the governments of the United Colonies,
* Mr. Gordon thus states the dissatisfaction with the government of Massachussetts, which was expressed on this occasion by general Lee, who attributed the sufferings of the army to their parsimony. “The assembly was far from giving satisfaction to general Lee, who, about the middle of November, pronounced them be
numbed in a fixed state of torpitude without the symptoms of animation, unless the apprehensions of rendering themselves unpopular among their particular constituents, by an act of vigour for the public service, deserve the name of animation. He charged them with inconsistent and timid conduct, and ascribed it to their torpor, narrow politics, or call it what you will, that the army had been reduced to very great distress”
CHAP. IV. that it was possible to rely too much on indivi. 1775. dual patriotism; and that the American cause,
if defended entirely by temporary armies, must be often exposed to the most imminent hazards.
Perceiving the very great difficulty experienced in recruiting the army, and alarmed at a circumstance which wore so serious an aspect, the general recommended it in very earnest terms to congress, to try the effect of a bounty, but this proposition was not acceded to until late in January following; and on the last day of December, when all the old troops not engaged on the new establishments were disbanded, only nine thousand six hundred and fifty men had been inlisted for the army of 1776, many of whom were unavoidably permitted to be absent on furlough. Their numbers, however, were considerably augmented during the winter, and, in the mean time, the militia cheerfully complied with the requisitions made on them.
The difficulty of recruiting the army was greatly increased by the danger apprehended from the small pox. Inoculation had not then been generally practised in America, and the fears entertained of the disease were excessive. It raged in Boston, and intelligence was re. ceived, that general Gage had caused several persons to be inoculated, and sent into the country for the purpose of spreading the infection. This intelligence was never confirmed,