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Such was our situation and condition at Fort Lee
on the morning of the 20th of November, when an officer arrived with
information that the enemy with 200 boats had landed about seven miles
above; Major General [Nathaniel] Green, who commanded the garrison,
immediately ordered them under arms, and sent express to General
Washington at the town of Hackensack, distant by the way of the ferry
= six miles. Our first object was to secure the bridge over the
Hackensack, which laid up the river between the enemy and us, about six
miles from us, and three from them. General Washington arrived in about
three-quarters of an hour, and marched at the head of the troops towards
the bridge, which place I expected we should have a brush for; however,
they did not choose to dispute it with us, and the greatest part of our
troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except some which
passed at a mill on a small creek, between the bridge and the ferry, and
made their way through some marshy grounds up to the town of Hackensack,
and there passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the wagons
could contain, the rest was lost. The simple object was to bring off
the garrison, and march them on till they could be strengthened by the
Jersey or Pennsylvania militia, so as to be enabled to make a stand.
We staid four days at Newark, collected our out-posts with some of
the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the enemy, on being
informed that they were advancing, though our numbers were greatly
inferior to theirs. Howe, in my little opinion, committed a great error
in generalship in not throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island
through Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores
at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania; but if we
believe the power of hell to be limited, we must likewise believe that
their agents are under some providential control.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our retreat to
the Delaware; suffice it for the present to say, that both officers
and men, though greatly harassed and fatigued, frequently without rest,
covering, or provision, the inevitable consequences of a long retreat,
bore it with a manly and martial spirit. All their wishes centred in
one, which was, that the country would turn out and help them to drive
the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked that King William never appeared
to full advantage but in difficulties and in action; the same remark may
be made on General Washington, for the character fits him. There is a
natural firmness in some minds which cannot be unlocked by trifles, but
which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of fortitude; and I reckon it
among those kind of public blessings, which we do not immediately see,
that God hath blessed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a
mind that can even flourish upon care.

I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous remarks on the state
of our affairs; and shall begin with asking the following question, Why
is it that the enemy have left the New England provinces, and made these
middle ones the seat of war? The answer is easy: New England is not
infested with Tories, and we are. I have been tender in raising the
cry against these men, and used numberless arguments to show them their
danger, but it will not do to sacrifice a world either to their folly
or their baseness. The period is now arrived, in which either they or
we must change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And what is a
Tory? Good God! what is he? I should not be afraid to go with a hundred
Whigs against a thousand Tories, were they to attempt to get into arms.
Every Tory is a coward; for servile, slavish, self-interested fear is
the foundation of Toryism; and a man under such influence, though he may
be cruel, never can be brave.

But, before the line of irrecoverable separation be drawn between us,
let us reason the matter together: Your conduct is an invitation to the
enemy, yet not one in a thousand of you has heart enough to join him.
Howe is as much deceived by you as the American cause is injured by you.
He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his standard, with
muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions are of no use to him, unless
you support him personally, for 'tis soldiers, and not Tories, that he
wants.

I once felt all that kind of anger, which a man ought to feel, against
the mean principles that are held by the Tories: a noted one, who kept a
tavern at Amboy, was standing at his door, with as pretty a child in his
hand, about eight or nine years old, as I ever saw, and after speaking
his mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with this
unfatherly expression, "Well! give me peace in my day." Not a man lives
on the continent but fully believes that a separation must some time or
other finally take place, and a generous parent should have said, "If
there must be trouble, let it be in my day, that my child may have
peace;" and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to
awaken every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so happy as
America. Her situation is remote from all the wrangling world, and she
has nothing to do but to trade with them. A man can distinguish himself
between temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am that God
governs the world, that America will never be happy till she gets clear
of foreign dominion. Wars, without ceasing, will break out till that
period arrives, and the continent must in the end be conqueror; for
though the flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal can
never expire.

America did not, nor does not want force; but she wanted a proper
application of that force. Wisdom is not the purchase of a day, and it
is no wonder that we should err at the first setting off. From an excess
of tenderness, we were unwilling to raise an army, and trusted our
cause to the temporary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's
experience has now taught us better; yet with those troops, while they
were collected, we were able to set bounds to the progress of the enemy,
and, thank God! they are again assembling. I always considered militia
as the best troops in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not
do for a long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt on
this city [Philadelphia]; should he fail on this side the Delaware, he
is ruined. If he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes all on his
side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds, the consequence will
be, that armies from both ends of the continent will march to assist
their suffering friends in the middle states; for he cannot go
everywhere, it is impossible. I consider Howe as the greatest enemy the
Tories have; he is bringing a war into their country, which, had it not
been for him and partly for themselves, they had been clear of. Should
he now be expelled, I wish with all the devotion of a Christian, that
the names of Whig and Tory may never more be mentioned; but should the
Tories give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come, I
as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel them from the
continent, and the Congress appropriate their possessions to the relief
of those who have suffered in well-doing. A single successful battle
next year will settle the whole. America could carry on a two years' war
by the confiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made
happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge, call it rather
the soft resentment of a suffering people, who, having no object in view
but the good of all, have staked their own all upon a seemingly doubtful
event. Yet it is folly to argue against determined hardness; eloquence
may strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the tear
of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is steeled with
prejudice.

Quitting this class of men, I turn with the warm ardor of a friend to
those who have nobly stood, and are yet determined to stand the matter
out: I call not upon a few, but upon all: not on this state or that
state, but on every state: up and help us; lay your shoulders to the
wheel; better have too much force than too little, when so great an
object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in the
depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive, that
the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to
meet and to repulse it. Say not that thousands are gone, turn out your
tens of thousands; throw not the burden of the day upon Providence, but
"show your faith by your works," that God may bless you. It matters not
where you live, or what rank of life you hold, the evil or the blessing
will reach you all. The far and the near, the home counties and the
back, the rich and the poor, will suffer or rejoice alike. The heart
that feels not now is dead; the blood of his children will curse his
cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a little might have saved the
whole, and made them happy. I love the man that can smile in trouble,
that can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection.
'Tis the business of little minds to shrink; but he whose heart is firm,
and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pursue his principles
unto death. My own line of reasoning is to myself as straight and clear
as a ray of light. Not all the treasures of the world, so far as I
believe, could have induced me to support an offensive war, for I think
it murder; but if a thief breaks into my house, burns and destroys my
property, and kills or threatens to kill me, or those that are in it,
and to "bind me in all cases whatsoever" to his absolute will, am I to
suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether he who does it is a king or
a common man; my countryman or not my countryman; whether it be done by
an individual villain, or an army of them? If we reason to the root
of things we shall find no difference; neither can any just cause be
assigned why we should punish in the one case and pardon in the other.
Let them call me rebel and welcome, I feel no concern from it; but I
should suffer the misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul by
swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sottish, stupid,
stubborn, worthless, brutish man.



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