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If instead of wasting your time against Long
Island you had run up the North River, and landed any where above
New York, the consequence must have been, that either you would have
compelled General Washington to fight you with very unequal numbers, or
he must have suddenly evacuated the city with the loss of nearly all
the stores of his army, or have surrendered for want of provisions; the
situation of the place naturally producing one or the other of these
events.

The preparations made to defend New York were, nevertheless, wise and
military; because your forces were then at sea, their numbers uncertain;
storms, sickness, or a variety of accidents might have disabled their
coming, or so diminished them on their passage, that those which
survived would have been incapable of opening the campaign with
any prospect of success; in which case the defence would have been
sufficient and the place preserved; for cities that have been raised
from nothing with an infinitude of labor and expense, are not to be
thrown away on the bare probability of their being taken. On these
grounds the preparations made to maintain New York were as judicious
as the retreat afterwards. While you, in the interim, let slip the very
opportunity which seemed to put conquest in your power.

Through the whole of that campaign you had nearly double the forces
which General Washington immediately commanded. The principal plan at
that time, on our part, was to wear away the season with as little loss
as possible, and to raise the army for the next year. Long Island, New
York, Forts Washington and Lee were not defended after your superior
force was known under any expectation of their being finally maintained,
but as a range of outworks, in the attacking of which your time might be
wasted, your numbers reduced, and your vanity amused by possessing them
on our retreat. It was intended to have withdrawn the garrison from Fort
Washington after it had answered the former of those purposes, but
the fate of that day put a prize into your hands without much honor to
yourselves.

Your progress through the Jerseys was accidental; you had it not even
in contemplation, or you would not have sent a principal part of your
forces to Rhode Island beforehand. The utmost hope of America in the
year 1776, reached no higher than that she might not then be conquered.
She had no expectation of defeating you in that campaign. Even the
most cowardly Tory allowed, that, could she withstand the shock of that
summer, her independence would be past a doubt. You had then greatly
the advantage of her. You were formidable. Your military knowledge
was supposed to be complete. Your fleets and forces arrived without an
accident. You had neither experience nor reinforcements to wait for.
You had nothing to do but to begin, and your chance lay in the first
vigorous onset.

America was young and unskilled. She was obliged to trust her defence to
time and practice; and has, by mere dint of perseverance, maintained her
cause, and brought the enemy to a condition, in which she is now capable
of meeting him on any grounds.

It is remarkable that in the campaign of 1776 you gained no more,
notwithstanding your great force, than what was given you by consent of
evacuation, except Fort Washington; while every advantage obtained by
us was by fair and hard fighting. The defeat of Sir Peter Parker was
complete. The conquest of the Hessians at Trenton, by the remains of a
retreating army, which but a few days before you affected to despise, is
an instance of their heroic perseverance very seldom to be met with.
And the victory over the British troops at Princeton, by a harassed and
wearied party, who had been engaged the day before and marched all night
without refreshment, is attended with such a scene of circumstances and
superiority of generalship, as will ever give it a place in the first
rank in the history of great actions.

When I look back on the gloomy days of last winter, and see America
suspended by a thread, I feel a triumph of joy at the recollection of
her delivery, and a reverence for the characters which snatched her
from destruction. To doubt now would be a species of infidelity, and to
forget the instruments which saved us then would be ingratitude.

The close of that campaign left us with the spirit of conquerors. The
northern districts were relieved by the retreat of General Carleton over
the lakes. The army under your command were hunted back and had their
bounds prescribed. The continent began to feel its military importance,
and the winter passed pleasantly away in preparations for the next
campaign.

However confident you might be on your first arrival, the result of the
year 1776 gave you some idea of the difficulty, if not impossibility of
conquest. To this reason I ascribe your delay in opening the campaign of
1777. The face of matters, on the close of the former year, gave you
no encouragement to pursue a discretionary war as soon as the spring
admitted the taking the field; for though conquest, in that case, would
have given you a double portion of fame, yet the experiment was too
hazardous. The ministry, had you failed, would have shifted the whole
blame upon you, charged you with having acted without orders, and
condemned at once both your plan and execution.

To avoid the misfortunes, which might have involved you and your money
accounts in perplexity and suspicion, you prudently waited the arrival
of a plan of operations from England, which was that you should proceed
for Philadelphia by way of the Chesapeake, and that Burgoyne, after
reducing Ticonderoga, should take his route by Albany, and, if
necessary, join you.

The splendid laurels of the last campaign have flourished in the north.
In that quarter America has surprised the world, and laid the foundation
of this year's glory. The conquest of Ticonderoga, (if it may be called
a conquest) has, like all your other victories, led on to ruin. Even the
provisions taken in that fortress (which by General Burgoyne's return
was sufficient in bread and flour for nearly 5000 men for ten weeks, and
in beef and pork for the same number of men for one month) served only
to hasten his overthrow, by enabling him to proceed to Saratoga, the
place of his destruction. A short review of the operations of the last
campaign will show the condition of affairs on both sides.

You have taken Ticonderoga and marched into Philadelphia. These are all
the events which the year has produced on your part. A trifling campaign
indeed, compared with the expenses of England and the conquest of the
continent. On the other side, a considerable part of your northern force
has been routed by the New York militia under General Herkemer. Fort
Stanwix has bravely survived a compound attack of soldiers and savages,
and the besiegers have fled. The Battle of Bennington has put a thousand
prisoners into our hands, with all their arms, stores, artillery and
baggage. General Burgoyne, in two engagements, has been defeated;
himself, his army, and all that were his and theirs are now ours.
Ticonderoga and Independence [forts] are retaken, and not the shadow of
an enemy remains in all the northern districts. At this instant we
have upwards of eleven thousand prisoners, between sixty and seventy
[captured] pieces of brass ordnance, besides small arms, tents, stores,
etc.

In order to know the real value of those advantages, we must reverse
the scene, and suppose General Gates and the force he commanded to be at
your mercy as prisoners, and General Burgoyne, with his army of soldiers
and savages, to be already joined to you in Pennsylvania. So dismal a
picture can scarcely be looked at. It has all the tracings and colorings
of horror and despair; and excites the most swelling emotions of
gratitude by exhibiting the miseries we are so graciously preserved
from.

I admire the distribution of laurels around the continent. It is the
earnest of future union. South Carolina has had her day of sufferings
and of fame; and the other southern States have exerted themselves in
proportion to the force that invaded or insulted them. Towards the close
of the campaign, in 1776, these middle States were called upon and did
their duty nobly. They were witnesses to the almost expiring flame of
human freedom. It was the close struggle of life and death, the line of
invisible division; and on which the unabated fortitude of a Washington
prevailed, and saved the spark that has since blazed in the north with
unrivalled lustre.

Let me ask, sir, what great exploits have you performed? Through all the
variety of changes and opportunities which the war has produced, I know
no one action of yours that can be styled masterly. You have moved in
and out, backward and forward, round and round, as if valor consisted in
a military jig. The history and figure of your movements would be truly
ridiculous could they be justly delineated. They resemble the labors of
a puppy pursuing his tail; the end is still at the same distance, and
all the turnings round must be done over again.

The first appearance of affairs at Ticonderoga wore such an unpromising
aspect, that it was necessary, in July, to detach a part of the forces
to the support of that quarter, which were otherwise destined or
intended to act against you; and this, perhaps, has been the means of
postponing your downfall to another campaign. The destruction of one
army at a time is work enough. We know, sir, what we are about, what we
have to do, and how to do it.

Your progress from the Chesapeake, was marked by no capital stroke of
policy or heroism. Your principal aim was to get General Washington
between the Delaware and Schuylkill, and between Philadelphia and your
army. In that situation, with a river on each of his flanks, which
united about five miles below the city, and your army above him, you
could have intercepted his reinforcements and supplies, cut off all
his communication with the country, and, if necessary, have despatched
assistance to open a passage for General Burgoyne. This scheme was too
visible to succeed: for had General Washington suffered you to command
the open country above him, I think it a very reasonable conjecture that
the conquest of Burgoyne would not have taken place, because you could,
in that case, have relieved him.



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