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much of the ethereal in it-were resolved upon taking the field, at all events, and the wealth of the former soon provided the means to do so, as well in the case of his companion as himself. He bought a transport vessel with his own funds, and sailed for America, accompanied by DeKalb and some ten or a dozen other adventurous chevaliers. The vessel reached the shores of SouthCarolina in safety, narrowly escaping the British cruisers. The party landed, at nightfall, near Georgetown, and proceeded to the summer residence of Major Benjamin Huger, the brave man who subsequently fell in a night sortie, fighting under the walls of Charleston, during the attempted coup de main of General Prevost against that city, in 1779. DeKalb acted as interpreter for the rest. In the family of Huger, our adventurers were entertained with the most generous and friendly welcome. They went thence to Charleston, where they found a like grateful treatment; but they were too earnest in seeking the field of actual conflict to linger even in pleasant quarters, and, after a brief delay, they hurried on to join the army of Washington. This was probably early in June, (1777.) They made the journey to Philadelphia on horseback, “riding,” says Mr. Headley, “nine hundred miles of the distance on horseback," a ride which, we suspect, devoured all the space between, even in that day of mighty distances. Their luggage was forwarded by wagons. This fact brings us to our first original letter of DeKalb, which was occasioned by it. It shows him in great straits for his wardrobe. It is addressed to the “ Honourable the Delegates in Congress, for the State of South-Carolina," and runs as follows. We shall. by the way, make no corrections or alterations in these letters, except in punctuation and orthography, leaving to the broken English of the Baron its peculiar charm. But, in truth, the Baron's English is tolerably good. His practice must have been considerable. Here follows his letter:
“ William McCafferty, an inhabitant of Charlotte township, in South-Carolina, on the back or upper road to the northern, of whom Messrs. Chripps [Crips) and May [merchants of Charleston, we presume) will be able to give yet a clearer account, they having recommended said McCafferty to me, to Messrs. De Lesser, De Valfort and Chevalier Dubuysson, for carrying our baggage from Charlestown to Philadelphia—the whole of 2,900 weight, or thereNEW SERIES, VOL. VI.—NO. 11.
abouts—for the sum of nine hundred pounds, South Carolina currency, to be paid in Philadelphia at his arrival.
“ The agreement was made by Messrs. Chrips and May themselves, and McCafferty promised to deliver the whole in a six weeks time.
“He loaded his wagon, and left Charleston on 26th June last, in company of three other wagons, belonging to the Marquis de Lafayette and others of our officers. He went with them as far as Charlotte; but then staid at home, would on no account go farther, and nothing was heard of him since.
“ As all the other wagons are arrived, it seems this man has a manifest design of defrauding us of our goods, as well as to keep to himself forty louis d'ors in gold, belonging to M. le Chev. de Fayolle, which said McCafferty promised to return for three hundred dollars in paper money.
“ To have said McCafferty do us justice, I beseech the Honourables, the Delegates in Congress for the State of South-Carolina, to cause such orders to be issued as will be most effectual to the purpose. Philadelphia, 28th August, 1777.
(Signed) The BARON DEKALB."
We shall see, hereafter, what was the result of this petition, and in what manner the trusty Wm. McCafferty fulfilled his obligations. We need not remark that the case was one for the courts of justice, over which the Delegates in Congress had no sort of jurisdiction, though they might bring sufficient influence and authority to bear to hurry the processes of law and effect the purposes of justice. The application, by the way, should have been made to the delegates from North, instead of South Carolina, the latter having no sort of relations with the good people of Charlotte. We may remark, upon the incidental matter of this letter, that it affords us the exact value of the American paper currency at this date, the gold louis d'or, forty to $300, affording a good standard for the estimate. It is to be regretted that we have no historical data by which to rate the progress in degradation of the continental issues during the war-a point of some importance in weighing duly the facts of history, and not wanting in use in occasional legal affairs. The letter of the Baron reminds us also of what was the importance of the wagon trade between South-Carolina and Philadelphia during that long period—from June, 1776,
to May, 1780, nearly four years-in which South-Carolina escaped the immediate pressure of war, and flourished, comparatively speaking, in consequence of it. It grew to be a singularly lucrative business--many fortunes were made by it, and much money distributed along the route of travel. The intercourse between the extreme colonies could be carried on only through this medium. The pathways of the sea were almost wholly shut up, the coast being completely covered by British cruizers. This wagon trade, of itself, would afford materials for an interesting history. The slow progress of the wagons, flitting through gloomy defiles, unbroken forests, and unsettled tracts of wilderness, frequently tempted the wild marauder to his trade. If marked by profit, it was as frequently marked by plunder. The case of McCafferty, with the Baron's goods, affords a clue to this sort of business, though McCafferty may have been a victim himself, rather than a criminal. The wagon trade, however profitable for a season, may have been the source of much evil in the end. Looking to the rapidly depreciating beauties of the continental currency, it may be doubted if the benefits enured very long to the possessor; else, why should McCafferty have required a pledge of gold in hand, and why should the Chevalier de Fayolle desire to get back his louis d'ors, in lieu of his paper? In addition, we can entertain no doubt that the trade itself was a source of very great corruption. It demoralized, to a considerable degree, the persons employed in it and along the route, and the consequences told very injuriously to the American cause when these regions were subsequently traversed by the enemy.
On the 15th September (1777) DeKalb was appointed a major-general in the American service, his commission to bear date with that of Lafayette, (31st July.) These appointments, by the way, were a sort of military fiction, designed to appease the appetite for rank, and not to give any absolute right to command. How it was hoped to reconcile the inconsistency, we do not exactly see, since the possession of the rank, without any right to exercise it in actual service, must be, to the military man, having real character and courage, a source of much greater mortification than the denial of the title or position. Though understood by Washington as merely honourary,
and perhaps designed as such by Congress, the appointments were productive of many heart-burnings and much embarrassment in the service. The appointees naturally presumed upon it, and the native, and other officers, to whom no such honourary distinctions had been given, as naturally became discontented. Washington, in a letter to the President of Congress, mentions with dissatisfaction an application from Lafayette for the command of a division and the appointment of aids—and this application was urged, not as a petition for further favours, but as a right, belonging to the previous appointments. Washington was really disposed to favour the Marquis ; yet he could not avoid seeing the dilemma in which his appointment would involve the service. The case of Lafayette was that also of the Baron DeKalb, and the letter which follows was due to the openly expressed discontent of the vain and malignant Conway, and of others, who had much better reasons for complaint than that impudent adventurer. Conway wrote to Congress, in respect to this appointment : “Baron DeKalb, to whom you have offered the rank of major-general, is my inferior in France.” It will be observed in the following letter, that DeKalb speaks of the "favour Congress designs," etc., as if the measure were only meditated, and he not yet in commission. It may be that the purpose here indicated was to change the honourary into an active appointment. The letter is addressed to
" The Honourable Colonel Laurens, Delegate in Congress from the State of South Carolina.
“At Peter Wolff's, Oct. 2d, 1777. “ DEAR SIR :—By the letter of this day you honoured me with, I plainly see, that what you thought on, and spoke of, to me, at Lietitz, can in no way be effected, no proposal having been made to Congress for sur [such] a purpose. I am not the less obliged to you
for your intended kindness. I should have been glad of its having taken place, as a proper means to remove many difficulties, which are likely to increase rather than subside, as I guess by a letter received from Colonel Lee, to whom I repeat, once more, that if Congress, or any of their members, were in the least distress of removing any uneasiness my stay should give to whomsoever, I would decline the favour Congress have a mind to confer upon me. I would have nobody displeased for my sake.
It may, perhaps, seem odd, that I do not reside at Yorktown, and sue in person for an answer from Congress to my letters to Col.
Lee, of 18th September and 2d October. But I would not be charged, in case I was to stay, of having solicited the influence of friends to be employed.
“I have the honour to be, with great esteem and respect, dear sir, your most obedient and
The BARON DEKALB."
The last paragraph of this letter exhibits the possession of a decent dignity and becoming manliness in the Baron, which is singularly in contrast with the course usually pursued, at that day, by the foreign officers in the service. The Colonel Lee here spoken of was probably Richard Henry, the Delegate from Virginia, who must not be confounded with Harry Lee, the partisan. He appears to have written to Washington in regard to the appointment of the Baron as a brigadier. Washington answers, on the 17th Oct., 1777, “Your favour of the 5th inst., as also that of the 11th, by the Baron DeKalb, are both at hand. It is not in my power, at present, to answer your query respecting the appointment of this gentleman. But, sir, if there is anything in a report that Congress have appointed, or, as others say, are about to appoint, Brigadier Conway a major-general in this army, it will be as unfortunate a measure as ever was adopted,” etc. But our business is not with Conway. Enough, in this place, that, in spite of Washington's earnest expostulations, Conway was appointed ; and, but that the vessel was a weak one, carrying more sail than ballast, more streamers than steam, the appointment would have done incalculable mischief. It did some, as it was; but Conway's career was too short to realize all the results predicted. He soon melted into “thin air.”
Our third letter is dated" At Valley Forge Camp, 20th Nov., 1777," but is endorsed by Henry Laurens, to whom it is addressed, “Supposed to mean December, 1777.” We have proofs, meanwhile, that the Baron was in actual service. We find him one of the Board of War, for example, called on the 24th Nov., to consider the question whether an immediate attack should be made on the enemy in Philadelphia. The proposition was submitted at this moment, it being supposed to afford an admirable chance for a coup de main, in consequence of the absence, in New-Jersey, of Lord Cornwallis, with a large portion