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template with some satisfaction, as carry- j effect to the convention. It will rest upon ing undeniable testimony how little I de- the House to judge, when they see the served the charges of the hon. gentleman; 1 papers, whether I made good that refuta. and I leave it to his feelings, whether, after tion. And that brings me to another this explanation, some farther apology is question asked by the hon. gentleman : not due to me.]
“ By what means and upon what condi. In regard to the first and most material tion I am in person here?” Sir, I charged question asked me by the hon. gentleman my aid-de-camp, who carried my dispatch who proposed the motion, viz. In what to the Congress in answer to their vote of situation is the army at Cambridge? It is suspension, which the president had offiwith some surprize I find that any part of cially sent me, with a second letter to be this country is ignorant of the extraordi- delivered in case the suspension, alter connary circumstances that have attended it, sideration had of my first letter, was conas I conceive government must have re- tinued: the purport of this letter was to ceived intelligence of them some time ago. ask passports for my personal return for In regard to the report made by myself, I the re-establishment of my health (which acquit the King's ministers of any blame was then inuch affected) for the purpose in not yet having made it public, because of settling large and complicated accounts, it was so voluminous that the papers and other reasons; and í offered to give could not be digested and copied, with a parole that should the suspension of emthe constant labour of three clerks, before barkation be prolonged beyond the time last Saturday, when they were put into the apprehended, I would return to America hands of the noble lord, secretary of state upon the demand of the Congress, and for the American department. But I trust due notice given, re-deliver my person that noble lord will now lose no time to into their hands, and abide the fate of the make public matters of such importance. rest of the army with whom I had served. Let them undergo the scrutiny of the Sir, I had many reasons, not necessary nor committee as proposed by the amended proper to be alleged to the Congress, motion, and let the world judge, upon founded upon a nearer interest than health their report, whether the spirit of the or any private expediency, to make me troops and the honour of the nation have desirous to return home: to lay before been sustained and vindicated during those government important truths, not to be transactions. In confidence that these communicated by other means, and to suppapers cannot possibly be withheld, I refer ply, as far as in me lay, by an assiduous the hon. gentleman to them for a full de- and honest exertion in this House, the lineation and explanation of the state of misfortune that had disenabled me from things at Cambridge, and will rest my pre-performing my duty in the field. I acsent information upon a few material facts. companied my letter to the Congress by The troops have undergone hardships and one to general Washington, wherein upon trials of patience as severe, though of a an opinion of his character, I asked him different nature, as any they experienced for his support to an application that could in the conflicts of the campaign. They not interfere with the public duties of our have acquitted themselves with equal reso- respective situations. I shall beg leave to lution, temper, and honour. They are at read his answer as part of my speech; and present detained by a resolve of the Con- \ I do it, Sir, not only lest in these times of gress, expressing that there are causes of doubt and aspersion, I should incur cen. suspicion that the convention was designed sure for holding private correspondence to be broke on our part, and therefore with an enemy, but likewise because I they are justifiable, without breach of pub- think this letter, though from an enemy, lic faith, to suspend the embarkation of does honour to the human heart. [Here the trợops till the Convention is ratified the General read the following letter]: by the court of Great Britain.
“ Head-quarters, Pennsylvania, In common with various pretences
March 11th, 1778. which involved other names in high de- “ Sir; I was, only two days since, ho. partments to justify this measure, the Con- noured with your obliging letter of the 11th gress grounded many suppositions that I of February. knew to be unjust, upon iny conduct. Il “ Your indulgent opinion of my chathought it a duty to the state, to the army, 'racter, and the police terms in which you and to myself, to refute those suppositions, are pleased to express it, are peculiarly and still, if possible, to give immediate flattering; and I take pleasure in the op
portunity you have afforded me of assuring you, that, far from suffering the views of national opposition to be imbittered and debased by personal animosity, I am ever ready to do justice to the merit of the gentleman and the soldier; and to esteem, where esteem is due, however the idea of a public enemy may interpose. You will not think it the language of unmeaning ceremony, if I add, that sentiments of personal respect, in the present instance, are reciprocal. “Viewing you in the light of an officer contending against what feonceive to be the rights of my country, the reverse of fortune you experienced in the field cannot be unacceptable to me; but, abstracted from considerations of national advantage, I can sincerely sympathize with your feelings, as a soldier, the unavoidable difficulties of whose situation forbid his success; and as a man, whose lot combines the calamity of ill health, the anxieties of captivity, and the painful sensibility for a reputation, exposed, where he most values it, to the assaults of malice and detraction. “As your aid-de-camp went directly on to Congress, the business of your letter to me had been doided before it came to hand. I am happy that their cheerful acquiescence with your request, prevented the necessity of my intervention. And, wishing you a safe and agreeable passage, with a perfect restoration of your health, I have the honour to be, &c. “Geo. WASHINGTON."
Sir, the Congress readily consented to my application; and by this candid treatment of my enemies, I am here to vindicate my conduct against the false and barbarous interpretations that have arisen and have been suffered to prevail, by those who could have contradicted them, at home. The hon. gentleman wishes to know what is the difference of numbers of the army between the time of signing the convention, and the present time; and I find the idea of great desertion very much prevails. That some men have deserted, in the worst sense of the word, is true. They are few, the scum of the regiments, and no loss of real strength. The greater part who have absconded, have had no intention to abandon the service, and if an epithet of honour could at any time be applied to -a fault, theirs might be called an honourable desertion.* Some of these men left
• General Burgoyne took occasion in two subsequent debates to explain his meaving in [VOL. XIX.]
letters or sent messages to their officers, informing them that in their present want of necessaries and comforts, and their inability to serve in arms, they had taken to trades and day labour in the country, but that they held themselves under an obligation from which they would never depart, to return to their regiments whenever the time of embarkation was ascertained : others, upon a high, though a mistaken suggestion of spirit, made efforts to effectuate a passage through the woods, to join the armies under sir William Howe or sir Henry Clinton, and it is believed that some of them succeeded. The whole of the absentees amounted to between five and six hundred men. Sir, I have thus far endeavoured to give the hon. gentlemen satisfaction in the matters that seem most immediately to engage their attention, and that I could consistently with order adduce in argument to support my vote for a more general enquiry. I shall now proceed, (as yet stronger reasons for agreeing with the amendment,) to take notice of what has hitherto passed in the House, and upon very imperfect information, respecting other parts of the late campaign. * But, Sir, accustomed as I have been to be indulged by the House upon every occasion; and confident, as I ought to be, upon one where their indulgence is justice, I find cause in my own mind, in entering upon so complicated a subject, to implore anew, the fullest scope to their patience and candour, for a man, whose facuities, far too weak for such shocks, are almost unhinged by a succession of difficulties abroad, that fall to the lot of few, and whose disappointments and anxieties have been consummated, by the unexpected reception he has met at home.
this phrase, which he found had been misunderstood both within and without the House, He meant to apply the word “honourable' only to the common soldier's conception, who, unused to consider and discriminate punctiliously the obligations of conventions with an enemy, acted only upon the principies of zeal to serve his king, and again to be actively employed in
arms: that therefore their conduct was honour
ably intended, though misconceived. That so far from justifying that conception himself, he was persuaded that to retain such deserters when demanded, or indeed discovered, would be an infringement of the convention, and he was persuaded sir William Howe or sir Henry Clinton would, upon such demand or discovery, return them.
[4 G |
And this address, Sir, is the more ne- | Every person in government might have cessary, because I stand here unconnected pronounced my acquittal of so base a proand unassisted. I am ignorant who would ceeding, because they knew, though the have supported my own motion, had I public did not, that it was decided * in made it, though confident from a prepos. the autumn of 1776, and notified to sir session of its propriety it would have found Guy Carleton accordingly, that his mili. assistance somewhere. Neither courting tary command was confined to the boundanor fearing power, neither courting nor fear- ries of the province of Quebec. It did not ing party, I stand here upon the sole basis occur to the noble lord to state that fact, of truth and honour, and only ask support because doubtless he did not foresee the in proportion to the justice of my cause. prejudices the letter would occasion ; but
During my absence an enquiry was in- I cannot but lament he did not produce stituted, in which my name was very much other letters of mine, which would have involved. In the short space of time removed effectually every possible suspisince my return, and in the agitated state cion of a design so foreign to my heart as of mind I have mentioned, it has been that of supplanting a gallant friend. Such impossible for me to obtain from the mere letters would at the same time bave renconversation and recollection of friends, dered unnecessary the long train of cor. all that passed upon that occasion : but I respondence laid upon your table, to shew have collected enough to know that I that the preparations in Canada were duly have been treated with great attention in expedited ; because I should have been general, and it is among my first duties to found to express the fullest sense of the return to every quarter of the House my zeal, the assiduity, and the honour with very sincere and grateful acknowledge which sir Guy Carleton acted, notwithments. I also know, that with all that standing his disappointment in not being attention and favour, much implied cen- employed to conduct the campaign. sure must have fallen upon me, from the Will it be said, that the letters I allude nature of the proceedings, and more es- to were withheld because they were pri. pecially from the position, which I cannot vate ?-In the first place they do not proadmit to be a true one, but which I un.. perly come under that description, though derstand has been much insisted upon, it is true they were not office letters.6. That where there is miscarriage there They could not be directed as such, bemust be blame: and consequently, that cause acting in subordination to sir Guy the acquittal of one man infers the con Carleton, the official correspondence could demnation of apother."
only with decorum pass through him; but Sir, the papers which have been laid they were not private as applied to secresy, before the House are in some respects nor improper as they related to the disdeficient and in others superfluous. The tinct and separate object of the command first superfluity to which I allude is a pri. I was entering upon. But, Sir, had any vate letter from me to the noble lord, ac- parts of these letters (or of any others ne. quainting him with my intention of going cessary to my justification, of which I say to Bath; of my audience with the King; there are many) been private in any sease of my solicita:ion to his Majesty for active of the word, will that excuse be alledged employment the next campaign ; express. for detaining them, when there has aping my hopes of his lordship's patronage peared before you a paper of the most in that pursuit, and concluding with such secret nature, I mean my thoughts upon acknowledgments and professions as were conducting the war from the side of Canatural to How from a warm and unsuspi- nada. What officer will venture hereafter cious heart impressed with a sense of ano. to give his opinion upon measures or men, ther's favour.
when called upon by a minister, if his Not conceiving for what possible public confidence, his reasonings, and his prefere purpose this letter was produced, I can only attend to the effects it has had to l * This decision was made, not oply upon prejudice me personally. Suspicions have the expediency of the governor attending the been excited, that at the time I wrote
civil duties of ibe province, which were thought that letter I was courting command, and
at that time to require particular attention, but
also upon doubts whether the general's coroby adulatory means, in preference and in
" mission authorised him to act beyond the prejudice to sir Guy Carleton under whom boundaries : and ibis whole transaction passed I had had the honour to serve, a confi- loug before the return of general Burgoyne te dential second, the preceding campaign, England, and entirely without bis koowledge..
ences are thus to be invidiously exposed; | ready to move upon the lower part of
for see the situation in which it puts to be a direct and abominable falsehood. him.—Under the words “ you are to act Sir, those officers were the eyes and the as exigencies may require, let us suppose hands by which I conducted all material him to take the cautious part. He makes operations : more able advisers, or more no attempt upon the enemy, because his faithful friends, never existed : that they exigency was such, that in doing so he saw I was placed in an arduous situation, must abandon his communications and risk and felt for my difficulties, it is true ; but his retreat. What would the government, that they ever dropt a syllable that implied the army, and the country have said to an idea that I had an alternative, I Aatly him? What ought every man to have said deny. The indefatigable alacrity of geneto him who read the prior part of this ral Philips to bring forward the transports order? “Is this vigorous exertion? Is this preparatory to the passage of the river, to force your way to Albany. The enemy was uncommon even in support of a fawere panic struck before British troops : vourite object; it would have been uncomtheir numbers therefore were but as sha-mon indeed, had he acted with secret redows. The loyalists awaited your advance luctancy! As to general Frazer, our comto join by thousandssir H. Clinton was munications were those of the most unre.
served friendship; and it is my pride to the indispensible purpose of transporting affirm, that the consonancy of his senti- provision, where there was no water carments with mine were almost invariable. riage; there was another train of very Upon the passage of the Hudson's river, cumberous carriages, equally necessary in particular, he thought it of uncontro. for the transport of the boats, where the vertible expediency; he thought it glo- rapids prevented their passage in the rious danger; he was consulted upon all stream; a transport, in some places, of measures at the time and subsequent to many miles in length. Sir, it would be it; he bore an active part in many; he trifling with the House to dwell longer approved of all; and the last sentence he upon these censures, the offspring of mautiered, was a message of affection and lice and ignorance; the prevalence of such good wishes to me.
reports tends to one use it will persuade The other falsehoods that have been dis the world, at least, that material faults persed respecting the same period of time, could not abound, when detraction itself can hardly be urged as reasons for enquiry, is reduced to have recourse to such ac. for they are below refutation ; such as thccusation. delays occasioned by carrying forward all Sir, reverting therefore to the more the artillery, and a cumberous train of gross injuries my reputation has sustained, baggage có It was a mark of Eastern I think I have stated enough to shew, that pomp," says a ministerial news-writer. the character of a member has been un, That all the artillery was with the army is avoidably brought into question, and upon false, for the heavy train was sent back to his assertion that the information the Canada: the field-train which remained House has proceeded upon, is incomplete was that which had been destined for the and fallacious, I know not what descrip, expedition, when sir Guy Carleton ex- tion of men could justly refuse to him pected to have the conduct of it in person. personally a new and full enquiry. That intelligent and judicious officer, ge. I would ask of ministers themselves, neral Philips, had been consulted upon the what would be their feelings, if, after an proportion; and it had been regulated unsuccessful undertaking of high trust and upon the consideration of the nature of importance, and debarred, by an interdicthe war ; the power of that arm in forcing tion, from the presence of their sovereign, posts, and against new troops ; and the the means of submitting their conduct to probability of having posts ourselves to that royal breast, where justice, and benefortify. Neither, Sir, was the artillery, in volence, and protection to the innocent the proportion carried, cause of the least are ever to be expected, except when delay ; because the horses that drew it truth is perverted or concealed, what were supernumerary to those which were would be their feelings is refused also an sufficient for all the carts and waggons we appeal to their country? To my brotherhad; and consequently within the time officers in parliament I would more parti. indispensibly given for the transport of the cularly apply for support to this amendprovision, the artillery was brought for- ment, as a common cause of the profesward by horses that could have been no sion : they will consider the discourageotherways employed.
ment that must ensue, and the injury the The supposed quantity of baggage is service must suffer, if an officer, who is equally erroneous, I cannot suffer an conscious to have done his best, whose idea so unjust to the spirit of the army, greatest enemies pretend not to impute to to remain upon the minds of the public. him any other charges than excess of All baggage of bulk, to the abridgment of zeal and erroneous judgment, and even many material comforts, had been cheer- these charges founded upon a mutilated fully left behind by the officers; some of state of facts-what is the state of officers, them had not beds; many lay in soldier's if upon such grounds, and by the artful tents; and I know of none that had more management of other circumstances, they than the common necessaries for active are disgraced at court, put by, if not inė. service.
vitably precluded the judgment of a miliIt must be lotal want of knowledge of tary tribunal, and at last denied the only the country and the war, to suppose that, possible means of justification that rewith all these precautions, the train of car- mains-a parliamentary investigation of a riages did not still remain great. It is to measure of state with which the rectitude be considered, there was a train of six or criminality of their conduct is inseparáhundred carriages; and those too few for bly blended To my honourable friends