« PreviousContinue »
the world. Let it suffice to say, that this part of the United States has had a narrow escape. I have been seven months in the field, without taking my clothes off one night!”
When, however, at length he entered Charleston, after its evacuation by the enemy, the reception which he met was well calculated to sooth his feelings, and reward his toils. 'When, conducting into the capital the civil authority of the state, he advanced, at the head of a body of cavalry, no tongue ventured, at first, to interrupt the silence that every where prevailed. The eye seemed for a time to be the only organ capable of action. Nor was it until that was satisfied with gazing, that the lips ventured to give utterance to the overflowings of the heart.
Expressions of admiration and gratitude, faint at first, grew louder and louder, until the vast assemblage of spectators, united in a mingled tribute of thanks, applauses, and benedictions, to him, whose wisdom and valour had stayed the desolating sword of war, rescued them from the sceptre of military despotism, and given them, in prospect, a certainty of freedom, independence, and peace. 'From every quarter congratulatory addresses were presented to Greene; banquets, balls, and other festive entertainments, public and private, were provided for his gratification; fire-works and illuminations were brilliantly exhibited; and all that a liberated and generous people, in the jubilee of their soul, could devise to amuse or delight him, were expensively prepared. To crown the whole, in places of public worship, thanks were solemnly offered to the God of battles, for the various successes of the American arms, and the signal deliverance, the city had experienced.'
He was not allowed to wear his laurels in perfect tranquillity; envy and detraction, which had not spared even Washington, soon assailed his person. The army were in great distress for supplies, Mr. Banks, the contractor, had not the credit requisite to procure them, and Greene generously pledged his private property, by becoming security, Banks proved unfortunate or fraudulent, and Greene not only lost his property, but his reputation was aspersed with the charge of mercenary views, and a participation in Banks's nefarious designs.
'An accusation,' says his biographer, ' more foul in principle, or unfounded in fact, never issued from the tongue of malice. In consequence of it, the conduct of Greene in his whole connexion with Banks, was solemnly investigated at the bar of congress, by some of the most upright and intelligent men of the nation. In this scrutiny, general Hamilton was actively concerned. The result proved, as every man of intelligence was confident it would, in a high degree honourable to the reputation of Greene. From the witnesses and documents that were examined, there appeared no shadow of ground to arraign his motives. On the contrary, their purity and the general uprightness of his character were incontestably established. An official paper containing a decision to this effect, was prepared and deposited in the archives of the nation, and
the debt for which his estate had become liable, was finally paid out of the public treasury. Many years having elapsed after his death, before this decision took place, the matter not being finally adjusted until about the year 1796, his personal influence could not be regarded as efficient in the procurement of it. It was a spontaneous act of justice by the government, in behalf of the reputation and estate of an officer, whose integrity was as spotless as his services had been pre-eminent.'
Upon his return, after the peace, to his native state, his reception was 'cordial and joyous. The authorities of the common wealth welcomed him home, with congratulatory addresses, and the chief men of the place waited on him at his dwelling, eager to testify their gratitude for his services, their admiration of his talents and virtues, and the pride with which they recognized him as a native of Rhode Island.'
He did not remain there long, but while there, exerted his influence, energetically and successfully, in favour of the unfortunate tories, now threatened with confiscation and banishment. After a residence in Rhode Island of two years, he sailed with his family for Georgia, in October, 1785, and settled on an estate near Savannah, which had been presented to him by the state of Georgia. Here he egnaged in agricultural pursuits, possessing, from the gratitude of South Carolina, an estate on the Edisto valued at ten thousand pounds sterling; besides the plantation already mentioned, which was estimated at half of that amount; and twentyfive thousand acres of land on Duck-creek, given by North Carolina. Happy too, in domestic life, as the father of two sons and three daughters, and in the recollection of a most useful and virtuous career, he had every prospect of living many years in the rich and unalloyed enjoyment, of his well earned fame. But, "When flooded with abundance, purpled o'er
With honours, bloom'd with every bliss,
And sheath his shafts in all the pride of life.'
'it was the will of heaven, that in this new sphere of action, his course should be limited. The short period of seven months was destined to witness its commencement and its close.
'Walking over his grounds, as was his custom, without his hat, on the afternoon of the 15th of June 1786, the day being intensely hot, he was suddenly attacked with such a vertigo and prostration of strength, as to be unable to return to his house, without assistance. The affection was what is denominated a 66 stroke of the sun." It was succeeded by fever, accompanied with stupor, delirium, and a disordered stomach.
'Being in high health, at the time of his attack, his habit plethoric, and his temperament inflammatory, the disease was violent, and its progress rapid. It was a southern complaint, fiercely in
vading a northern constitution. All efforts to subdue it proving fruitless, it terminated fatally on the 19th of the month.'
We have but few words to say by way of criticism on this book; it is rather too eulogistic for biography; a detail of such actions as those of Greene, is only loaded and encumbered, without being at all improved, by incessant praise. Every epithet of commendation is not only given, but lavished by the author upon his hero, in such immoderate profusion, that they rather interfere with the admiration which would otherwise be excited in the reader's mind. We do not mean to say that Greene did not deserve all praise, but there is an obvious and proper distinction between the style suitable to funereal eulogium, and that which is appropriate to posthumous biography; and this distinction Dr. C. has not observed. This is the most striking fault. We cannot but regret also the total absence of familiar letters and anecdotes of private life, by means of which a biographer successfully endeavours to render us familiar with the character and domestic life of his subject. Still, however, the work is a very respectable effort, in a species of composition which is too little cultivated among us, and is a valuable addition to the literature of our country. We extract the following account of some of the officers who were particularly distinguished in the Southern war, as a fair specimen of the style and manner of the work.
'Another officer, destined to figure with great lustre, in the army of the south, was colonel William Washington. An honest soldier, brave as Ajax, and scarcely inferior in personal strength, always impetuous, at times, perhaps, rash, in action, his sword was his idol; and he was calculated to execute, rather than plan. Leav ing to others, the deliberations of the closet, he panted for the field; and his delight, there, was in the tumult of battle. Yet, when the nature of the service, he was engaged in, required it, he manifested, on several occasions, a ready aptitude for the stratagems of war. This officer commanded, now, a regiment of continental cavalry.
'He was the eldest son of Baily Washington, Esq., of Stafford county, in the state of Virginia; and belonged to a younger branch, of the original Washington family.
'In the commencement of the war, and at an early period of life, he had entered the army, as captain of a company of infantry, under the command of general Mercer. In this corps, he had acquired, from actual service, a practical knowledge of the profes sion of arms.
'He fought in the battle of Long Island; and, in his retreat, through New Jersey, accompanied his great kinsman, cheerful under the gloom, coolly confronting the danger, and bearing, with exemplary fortitude and firmness, the heavy misfortunes, and privations, of the time.
In the successful attack, on the British post at Trenton, captain Washington acted a brilliant, and most important part. Perceiving
the enemy, about to form a battery, and point it, in a narrow street, against the advancing American column, he charged them, at the head of his company, drove them from their guns, and, thus, prevented, certainly, the effusion of much blood, perhaps, the repulse, of the assailing party. In this act of heroism, he received a severe wound, in the wrist. It is but justice to add, that, on this occasion, captain Washington was ably, and most gallantly supported, by lieutenant Monroe, now president of the United States, who also sustained a wound, in the hand.
'Shortly after this adventure, Washington was promoted to a majority, in a regiment of horse. In this command, he was very actively engaged, in the northern and middle states, with various success, until the year 1780. Advanced to the rank of lieutenantcolonel, and placed at the head of a regiment of cavalry, composed of the remains of three, that had been reduced, by sickness and battle, he was, then, attached to the army, under general Lincoln, engaged in the defence of South Carolina.
Here, his service was various, and his course eventful; marked, by a few brilliant strokes of fortune, but checkered with two severe disasters. The first of these reverses, was at Monk's corner, where he himself commanded; the other, at Leneau's ferry, where he was second, in command, to colonel White.
'Inured to an uncommon extent, and variety of hard service, and sufficiently disciplined, in the school of adversity, colonel Washington, although a young man, was, now, a veteran, in military experience. Added to this, he was somewhat accustomed to a warm climate, and had acquired, from actual observation, considerable knowledge, of that tract of country, which was to constitute, in future, the theatre of war.
'Such was this officer, when, at the head of a regiment of cavalry, he was attached to the army of general Greene. The most distinguished of his subsequent achievements, will be noticed in the regular course of our narrative.
One of his partisan exploits, however, the result of a well conceived stratagem, must be succinctly narrated.
'Having learnt, during a scouting excursion, that a large party of loyalists, commanded by colonel Rudgley, was posted at Rudgley's mill, twelve miles from Cambden, he determined on attacking them.
'Approaching the enemy, he found them so secured, in a large log barn, surrounded by abbattis, as to be perfectly safe, from the operations of cavalry.
Forbidden, thus, to attempt his object, by direct attack, his usual and favourite mode of warfare, he determined, for once, to have recourse to policy.
'Shaping, therefore, a pine log, in imitation of a field-piece, mounting it on wheels, and staining it with mud, to make it look like iron, he brought it up, in military style, and affected to make arrangements to batter down the barn.
'To give to the stratagem solemnity and effect, he despatched a Aag, warning the garrison of the impending destruction, and, to prevent blood-shed, summoned them to submission.
'Not prepared to resist artillery, colonel Rudgley obeyed the summons; and, with a garrison of one hundred and three, rank and file, surrendered at discretion.
In the spring of 1782, colonel Washington married miss Elliot, of Charleston, and established himself at Sandy-Hill, her ancestral
'After the conclusion of peace, he took no other concern, in public affairs, than to appear, occasionally, in the legislature of South Carolina.
'When general Washington accepted the command in chief, of the armies of the United States, under the presidency of Mr. Adams, he selected, as one of his staff, his kinsman, colonel William Washington, with the rank of brigadier general. Had other proof been wanting, this alone, was sufficient to decide his military worth.
'In private life, he was a man of unsullied honour, united to an amiable temper, lively manners, a hospitable disposition, and a benevolent heart.
A third officer, of great distinction, in the southern army, was colonel Howard, of Baltimore. He commanded the second regiment of Maryland regulars; and, for gallantry and firmness, decision of character, and sound judgment, was not exceeded, by any officer, of his rank, in the service of his country.
'With great intelligence, and skill in arms, he was one of those heroic spirits, on whom general Greene reposed his hopes, during the time he was deepest in adversity, and, in his high determination, to recover the south, or perish in the attempt.
Although he had been in commission, first, as captain, and afterwards, as major, from the month of June, 1776, he does not appear to have been much engaged in action, until he took his station, at the head of a regiment, in the southern army.
'Accomplished in tactics, and ripe in experience, although only, now, in his twenty-seventh year, he was, in all respects, fitted for the operations of the field.
'Accordingly, no sooner did an opportunity for action present itself, than his valour, as a soldier, and his reputation, as a commander, became conspicuous, in the midst of the accomplished and the brave.
'His brightest laurel was gathered at the Cowpens, where, assuming to himself the responsibility of the act, he charged, without orders, and, at the point of the bayonet, discomfited and scattered, a party of the enemy, superior in number to his own command, and consisting of the flower of the British army.
'His interview, immediately after the action, with general Morgan, the commanding officer, was eminently interesting; and, were