History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Life and Times of
Sir William Johnson, Bart.,
by William L. Stone
Albany: J. Munsell, 78 State Street, 1865.
Impatient of delay, and anxious that the blow so long meditated against Canada might be struck before the French should have power to repel it, the active mind of Shirley conceived the project of a descent upon Crown Point at midwinter. The legislature of Massachusetts was readily persuaded to second the enterprise; and on the sixteenth of January, Governor Clinton communicated to his council a very long letter from Mr. Shirley, setting forth his plans, and urging the cooperation of New York, and the adoption of immediate and vigorous measures to that end. It was Shirley's intention, while the troops destined directly against Crown Point were concentrating in the neighborhood of Albany, to create a diversion in the enemy's country, by detaching a force of five hundred men, to march through the valley of the Connecticut, and fall upon the villages of the St. Francis Indians, two hundred miles north of the English settlements. A similar movement, for the like object, was urged upon Governor Clinton, to be made against Fort Frontenac by the way of Oswego. Could the French be thus doubly distracted by simultaneous attacks at those distant points, it was presumed that in respect to the grand enterprise against Crown Point and Montreal, there could remain no well-founded doubt of success. Mr. Shirley, therefore, seeming to take it for granted that New York would second the enterprise without hesitation, much less with reluctance, asked for the services of its levies, then in garrison at Albany,(1) and requested that accommodations
(1) The New York forces during the winter of 1746- '47, were distributed at various points. Some were posted at Saratoga; others in the Mohawk country; and others again at Schenectady. Three companies were at Schaghticoke; four at Half Moon; two at Niskayuna, and others still at Albany.
for the New England troops might be provided, at Saratoga. He desired farther that the Six Stations might be brought into the field, and that forts might he erected by New York, at the heads of Lakes George and Champlain.(1)
The letter was referred to a committee by the council, the report of -which was indecisive and unsatisfactory. The committee affected to he in favor of the enterprise, yet doubted the practicability of carrying it into execution before the breaking up of winter. It was alleged that there were sufficient accommodations for the New England levies at Saratoga; the forts could not he built in time to guard the portages at the heads of the two lakes; and as to the proposed design against Fort Frontenac, New York was then in no condition to undertake it. On the whole, therefore, the committee thought "a winter campaign against Crown Point was liable to many difficulties, and would be a hazardous undertaking."(2) Governor Clinton was nevertheless inclined to favor the scheme, wild and impracticable as it seemed to many; and on the second of February he requested a more definite expression of opinion by his council. Two days afterward that opinion was given, in the form of a very decisive report against the whole project. It was urged, not without reason, that the winters in that high northern latitude were at beat exceedingly unfavorable for military operations, and it was moreover then too late. The warriors of the Six rations could not by any possibility be collected in season for the contemplated movement; and besides, more than a fortnight had intervened since a syllable had been heard from the projector of the expedition-Mr. Shirley. It was therefore held, as presented, to be utterly
(1) Shirley's letter-Minutes of the council board.
impracticable. (1) Belknap adds, as another reason prompting to this conclusion, that the smallpox was prevailing in the settlements north of Albany, through which the forces must necessarily pass,-a disease, the violence of which, at that day, had not been disarmed of its terrors by vaccination, or even mitigated by the process of inoculation. The agency of Clinton's council in defeating this darling enterprise of Shirley's, seems not to have been generally or publicly known, and the merit,-if such it may be called, of defeating it, has been accorded alone to "the more sober discretion of Connecticut," the government of which. "deemed the winter an improper season for so important an undertaking," refusing to furnish its quota of troops until spring.(2) Equally effectual was the unfavorable interposition of the New York council board.
An active correspondence was maintained between Governor Clinton and Colonel Johnson, during the winter and spring, having relation to the protection of the frontiers in general, but more especially to the Indian service; and the letters of the governor bear evidence that the colonel was already in the enjoyment of his strongest confidence. The notorious Jean Coeur, one of the most persevering and mischievous of the Jesuit emissaries in the Indian Confederacy, was yet among the Senecas, and it was deemed by Johnson an object of high importance to obtain possession of his person. He communicated his views upon the subject to the governor in February, by whom the project was warmly approved, and the colonel was urged to use his utmost endeavors to effect the object, either by stratagem or force, as circumstances might require. Early in March, moreover, Mr. Clinton wrote to Johnson directing him to send out as many war-parties
(1) Council minutes in manuscript.
(2) Belknap and Marshall. Smith does not even allude to these winter deliberations.
of Indians and Christians,(1) to harass the enemy in their own settlements," as he could 'bring into the service. To carry the war into the enemy's own country, and in his own way, was rightly judged "one of the most effectual means to prevent their daring mischief to us."(2) The Colonel was yet farther directed to send a party of Indians to the garrison at Saratoga, to act as scouts,-the commanding officer of which post being enjoined to treat the Indians thus coming to his assistance with the utmost kindness.(3) In reply to the letter thus abridged, Colonel Johnson wrote as follows:
Colonel Johnson to Governor Clinton.
"MOUNT JOHNSON, March 18, 1747.
"May it please your Excellency:
"This instant I am honored with your's by the express, and by whom I send this in return. In answer to what your excellency says about sending a party as out-scouts to Saratoga, I can only say that I find already that it is not at all agreeable to the Indians, they being now inclined and ready to go against Canada, where they say they can do more execution. Moreover they never like to keep in a garrison among so many Christians. Yesterday a party of twenty-two Christians and Indians returned from Saratoga, where I sent them in hopes to have met and intercepted some of the enemy's out-scouts. But they met none. No
(1) The whites at that day were called Christians in distinction from the Indians.
(2) Grahame, in his usually accurate, and very excellent history of the United States, falls into an important error respecting these predatory excursions of the Indians, which he maintains, were not encouraged by the English. Such was by no means the fact. The English employed all the Indians they could upon this service. Grahame, however, was probably led into the error by Belknap, who wrote particularly of New England and evidently in great ignorance of the operations in New York. See Grahame, book x, chap. ii.
(3) Manuscript letter; Clinton to Johnson. At its close, the governor said-" Pray let me know how poor old Hendrick dies, who, I am sorry to hear, is so lad." Hendrick, it will toe remembered, was the king of the Mohawks.
one will more readily comply with your excellency's orders than I shall; 'but at this time I would beg leave to assure your excellency that the consequence of it may he disastrous by keeping the Indians from fighting-they being now inclining that way more and more. I have this week sent out a parcel of Canajoharies, mixed with a few of the five Nations(1) against the French and their settlements, and am every day busy with fitting out more. I am going to send up Captain Stephens and two of the lieutenants, with a small party of men, and Indian chiefs of the two castles with them, to bring down some of the Five Nations to go a-scalping. I am of opinion we shall make the French smart this spring, by taking, scalping, and burning them and their settlements. But I shall be ruined for want of blankets, linen, paints, guns, cutlasses, &c., for I am almost out of all these, and cannot get them in Albany. I believe your excellency has seen how difficult it was last fall for you to get those things. But how much more so for me, being so envied by them. "Wherefore if I cannot have them from ~Sew York by the first opportunity, I do not know what I shall do. So I hope your excellency will endeavor to have them procured and sent up,-as also the pay for those belonging to me, about four hundred and thirty pounds. The party now going out were so uneasy that I paid the most of them to encourage them. Old Hendrick is in a pretty fair way of recovering again, which will be of great service to our cause. I hope that your excellency will order it so that my people maybe supplied as the rest, with every thing on a march which is requisite. As to the party which you intend to send to Oswego, I shall be ready to transport them a little after the lake opens, which I judge to be in about a fortnight. But be that as it will, I shall always let you know time enough beforehand. We kept St. Patrick's day yesterday and this day, and drank
(1) So in the original draught of the letter. Yet the Canajoharies were only a clan of the Mohawks -the head of the original Five Nations.
your health, and that of all friends in Albany, with so many other healths that I can scarce write.
"I am with great regard, dear sir, your most obedient humble servant,
" "WM. JOHNSON."
As a farther encouragement to the Indians, the legislature of Massachusetts voted an additional bounty for scalps; but Johnson opposed the allowance, and suggested that a different direction be given to the appropriation. Inasmuch, he said, as the bounty for scalps allowed by the assembly of New York, was entirely satisfactory to the Indians, and inasmuch also as he had already sent off several war-parties under the promise of that bounty and no more, he proposed applying the Massachusetts funds to the purchase of clothing and subsistence for the Indians and their families, now become very poor from the long time they had been kept from their hunting. (1) The Indians were at this time wretchedly armed, and scantily supplied; but Clinton was doing all in his power, as he wrote to Johnson on the twentieth of March, to remedy these deficiencies. The letters of the latter show that the need was pressing.
It was now the fourth year of the war. Yet, with the exception of the conquest of Louisburg, scarcely anything had been accomplished against the enemy, even in retaliation for the remorseless cruelties visited upon the border settlements of the English along the whole northern frontier. The energies of the colonies had been exerted, seemingly almost to exhaustion, in large preparations ending only in mortifying abortions. Such being the situation of affairs, Colonel Johnson, now at the head of the Indian department, determined to exert himself to the utmost in making the enemy realize the true character of the species of warfare he had adopted, by pouring into the Canadian settlements as many scalping parties as he could command. The contest became, therefore, so far as the colonies were concerned,
(1) Manuscript letter; Colonel Johnson to Colonel John Stoddard, of Northampton.
ignoble upon both sides ; "resembling more the practices of banditti than the operations of civilized warfare, and tending to no other results than obscure individual suffering, and partial havoc and devastation." In order to a better understanding of the manner in which the war was thus waged, and of the activity and energy of Colonel Johnson, even at this early period of his military career, the following letter is inserted at large: ".
Colonel Johnson to Governor Clinton.
"MOUNT JOHNSON, May 30,1747.
" May it please your Excellency:
"You cannot conceive the uneasiness your long silence gives me,-not having had the honor of a line from you since the thirtieth of April. It is now the first time that I have wanted money for scalps and prisoners, and instructions most of all. The numbers about me every day going to war, takes abundance of arms, ammunition and clothing, and I am quite bare of most of those things. Your excellency will conceive that what I have received is but a mere trifle with so many as I have to distribute it among, although so sparingly done; and were it not for my own store, and what goods I have been obliged to buy, I should have been obliged to drop the affair some time ago, which would have been very hard after all my trouble to bring them so heartily into our interest. I am quite pestered every day, with parties returning with prisoners and scalps, and without a penny to pay them with, it comes very hard upon me, and is displeasing to them, I can assure you, for they expect their pay, and demand it of me as soon as they return, as I mentioned to your excellency in my last of the twenty-fifth instant. Now that they find the money is not ready, they tell me this was but a draw to encourage them. Therefore I wish your excellency would only consider of it shortly. I thank God there is nothing wanting or backward in my affairs, wherefore hope your excellency will not let me suffer, or the cause drag for want of things requisite to carry it on. If your excellency intends soon to come up to Albany, I should be glad to receive your orders concerning the Indians coming down, for they certainly expect to be called, or invited, down this summer by you, or else by me. I am positive I could do more with them here, by far, than if they went to Albany, without going to above a quarter the expense ; because there they are corrupted by evil people, and drink all the goods they get, whereas here they have not that opportunity, but can carry them home and show their families what they have had of you,-which would encourage them much. Moreover here I have all my counselors, the Mohawks and Canajoharies, with whose assistance I could bring them to do anything. There is nothing more requisite at present than some blue camlet, red shalloon, good lace and white metal buttons, to make up a parcel of coats for some chief warriors from the Senecas, and for others who are daily expected. "Wherefore I wish your excellency would send me up these things by the first opportunity, and also about thirty good castor hats, with scallop lace for them all; white lace, if to be had, if not some yellow with it. This I assure your excellency goes a great way with them. They have been gained so mostly by the French always, and of consequence they expect it from us, and we have promised it. There is three months pay due to my officers and people the first of June, and as they are all upon hard service with the Indians daily, they require their pay, which I hope your excellency will please pay unto Mr. Anthony Duaue, merchant of New York, who will give your excellency a receipt for it. I also should be glad your excellency would advise me how I shall get the money for the enclosed account, being now a year due almost, and by your orders. Just as I was finishing my letter, arrived another party of mine, consisting of only six Mohawks, who brought with them seven prisoners and three scalps, which is very great for so small a party. I have my house, &c., now all full of the Five Nations,- some going out tomorrow against the French. Others go for news, which, when furnished, I shall let your excellency know. My people's success is now the talk of the whole country. I expect in a short time several more parties home from Canada. I believe Hendrick will be the first, who, I dare say, will bring a great many with him, dead or alive-so that we shall need a great deal of money among them all. They have brought in this spring as follows:
First, by Lieut. Walter Butler and his party, from Crown Point, the scalps of men,.......................... 6
By Lieut. Thomas Butler and party, prisoners,........ 8
By a Canajoharie party, prisoners,................... 8
By Gingegoe and party, prisoners, ................... 7
Total this spring,............................ 29
"If the money is sent up to me for this use, I shall give certificates of age, and render a clear account thereof, and the Indians shall receive it all in dollars, and not be cheated, as they would be by others, who would only give them some trifles of goods, rum, &c., for their bounty,-which usage has ruined our Indians mostly.
I am, with the greatest respect, your excellency's much obliged humble servant, &c.
Petty details of a petty warfare; but the record is essential to a just understanding of the border history of those times, for it was in this manner only that active hostilities were prosecuted during the entire open season. Neither the inhabitants of the English nor of the French borders were left to the enjoyment of a moment's security or repose. Exposed every hour to these hostile and often bloody incursions, they were compelled to fortify their houses by night, and go armed while performing the labors of the field by day.
One of the moat considerable of these hostile incursions during the spring of this year, was an attack upon a small fort in Charlestown, New Hampshire, by a large body of French and Indians, under the command of M. Debeline. This post had been unoccupied during the winter; but toward the close of March, captain Phineas Stevens, an officer who had been in command of it the year before, returned to the station, at the head of a body of thirty Massachusetts rangers, and no more. The enemy came stealthily into the immediate neighborhood of the fort, as it was called,-being, however, nothing but a small picketed stockade,-and lay in concealment, watching, doubts less, for an opportunity when the gate should be opened, to rush in and carry the work by a sudden assault unawares. Uneasiness, however, on the part of the dogs in the fort, created a suspicion that all was not right without. The little garrison being thus upon the qui vive, one of the men, desirous of ascertaining the cause of this canine inquietude, left the fort, and creeping cautiously to the distance of thirty rods, discharged his gun. Supposing themselves to have been discovered, a party of the enemy sprang up and fired at the adventurous ranger, slightly wounding him. Not with sufficient severity, however, to prevent his regaining the fort, though hotly pursued by the enemy, who, no longer affecting concealment, rushed forward with savage yells as though determined at once to carry the defence. But their courage was unequal to the attempt; and for a considerable time nothing more was done than to keep up a general fire, brisk, but ineffectual. The rangers were well covered, and small arms could of course make no sensible impression upon the stockade; but the fire was nevertheless returned with spirit, finding the garrison bent upon a resolute defence, and perceiving that the work was constructed of combustible materials, the enemy next attempted to set on fire, and thus summarily to compel a surrender. To this end the torch was applied to the neighboring fences, and also to a log-house standing about forty rods to windward. A brisk wind favored the design, and the flames approached, enveloping the fort in a dense body of smoke, and eclipsing the view of the enemy,-but of whose continued presence, the hideous yells of the savages, and the incessant rattle of musketry, gave ample evidence. There was indeed immediate danger from the approach of the devouring element, and it is quite probable that through its agency the enemy would have been successful but for a lucky expedient devised, by captain Stevens, and bravely executed by his men. The soil being favorable for rapid excavation, several subterranean passages or galleries were carried under the parapet, deep enough to allow the men to stand in them at the foot of the stockades on the outside, yet completely covered from the enemy. Buckets of water from the well within were then passed rapidly to the men standing in the trenches without, which being dashed upward upon the timbers, they were moistened sufficiently to prevent ignition. Failing in this first effort to produce a conflagration, M. Debeline next prepared a sort of mantalet, loaded with faggots, which were fired and forced down upon the fort. Showers of burning arrows were also shot into the defence,-a device which was alike abortive. The exertions of one-half the thirty preserved the work from the fire, while the other half lost no opportunity of firing upon the enemy, as often as he could be discovered through the intervening clouds of smoke. On the second day of the siege the French commander proposed a cessation of hostilities, until sunrise of the following morning,-a proposition readily acceded to by Captain Stevens, but the object of which does not appear. But no matter: just before the expiration of the armistice, Debeline, himself, bearing a flag, with fifty of his men, approached within fifty rods of the stockade, and a parley ensued,-Stevens receiving a lieutenant and two of the enemy into the fort as hostages, while the same number proceeded to a conference with the French commander. His demand was a surrender of the fort, the garrison to be conducted to Montreal as prisoners of war, with a request that Captain Stevens should meet him and reply to the summons in person. Ascertaining that his men would standby him in defending their little work to the last, Stevens proceeded to meet the Frenchman as requested, but was received roughly. Without pausing for an interchange even of the ordinary courtesies required by good breeding, Debeline threatened that if his terms were rejected, he would take the fort by storm; --adding, that in the event of the death of any of his men in the assault, he would put every man of the garrison to the sword. Under a menace like that, Stevens at once declined further negotiations,--declaring his purpose to listen to no overtures of surrender whatever, until his means of defence should be exhausted. "Do as you please," replied Debeline;-" I am resolved to have the fort or die. Go and see if your men dare fight any longer, and give me a speedy answer." Returning to the stockade, the hostages were interchanged, and at about twelve o'clock meridian, hostilities were recommenced, the firing being continued all that day, and the night following. Just at the peep of dawn on the third day, Stevens was addressed from the ranks of the enemy with the friendly salutation "Good morning," to which was added a proposition for a second armistice of two hours. It was granted; and shortly before its expiration, two Indians approached with a flag, proclaiming that if the English would sell them some provisions, they would withdraw without offering further molestation. The negotiation was declined upon the basis proposed;-Stevens, however, offering to supply them with provisions at the rate of five bushels of corn for every prisoner the enemy would stipulate to release at Montreal, hostages to be left to secure a faithful performance of the agreement. This proposition was in turn rejected; but the fire of the enemy gradually fell away, and before nightfall the siege was raised and the foe departed, deeply chagrined, beyond all doubt, at the failure of his enterprise, especially of the boastful confidence with which it had been commenced. The attack continued three days, during which thousands of balls were discharged into the fort, yet not a man of the garrison was killed, and but two of them wounded, and those slightly. Commodore Sir Charles Knowles, then with his squadron lying at Boston, was so highly gratified with the conduct of Captain Stevens, that he sent him an elegant sword, bearing a suitable inscription. The bravery of Stevens, and the mental resources which he discovered, were subjects of high praise in other quarters; yet he has been criticized for his imprudence in admitting the hostages retained by him during the negotiations, into the fort,- thus necessarily disclosing his weakness,-while it has also been suggested that he ought not to have risked his own person by placing himself within the power of a perfidious enemy, when he might rather have gent a subaltern to meet the French commander.
Debeline did not retire from the country at once, but on raising the siege of the stockade he divided his motley forces into several small parties, by which the border settlements of New Hampshire were infested for weeks thereafter. Skirmishes were frequent, houses were burnt, -and individuals were killed from day to day. All the dwellings in the two settlements of Winchester and Upper Ashuelot were destroyed by fire. Yet nearer to Albany the enemy was hovering about in considerable numbers.
In May, the government of Massachusetts commenced rebuilding the fort of that name which had been destroyed the year before by M. Vaudreuil. A party of one hundred men having been detached to Albany for provisions, on its return discovered the enemy in ambuscade in the very environs of the works. The discovery was timely. An engagement ensued, and the enemy, attacked upon both sides,-both by the returning party and the garrison,-was soon obliged to flee to the woods, whence he did not again emerge. The loss to the English was trifling, two men only being wounded, and one killed,- the latter an Indian ally of the Stockbridge tribe.
While the border-men were engaged in these predatory affairs,-prolific of individual suffering, but, though illustrated by many acts of personal conduct worthy of all praise, productive of no important results,-Governor Clinton was again involved in hostilities with his legislature. In the reasonable expectation of receiving instructions from ministers touching the prosecution of the war, the governor had delayed summoning the general assembly until the twenty-fifth of March. But no instructions came; and the season was already so far advanced as to require very active dispositions of the forces already in service for guarding the exposed points of the frontiers, even were offensive operations not in contemplation. The assembly was told in the speech that Colonel Roberts had been sent to Boston to confer with Governor Shirley, and that the Mohawks had been detained from their hunting expeditions that they might be in readiness to act in the war as circumstances might require. For the purpose of yet farther cultivating the friendship of the Six Nations, the governor proposed another voyage to counsel with them at Albany, for which object he required an appropriation. The long proposed expedition against Crown Point was again presented for legislative consideration; and, in the absence both of the advices and supplies expected from England, appropriations were required for the construction of the forts so long talked of at the carrying-places between the Hudson river and Lake Champlain. The forces likewise for the expedition, were to be levied and paid by the colonies embarking therein, upon all which points a full and cordial understanding existed between Governors Clinton and Shirley. Provision having only been made for victualing the levies then in the service until the first of May, farther supplies were required for that object. A week afterward a special message was sent down asking an appropriation for maintaining scouts, and a corps of rangers upon the frontiers. These requests were judged the more reasonable, inasmuch as all the expenses of the Indian service, and for the rangers, had been defrayed during the preceding year by the crown. No other business was presented to the consideration of the assembly, whose session, the governor suggested, must be short.
Justice Horsmanden reported the address of the council in answer to the speech. It contained the following passage embodying a reflection upon the integrity of the Indians, which, judging from the correspondence of Colonel Johnson, seems not at that time at least to have been deserved.
"It cannot but occasion great uneasiness in us to observe, that our Indians employed in the barbarous method of scalping, (only justifiable by the precedent practices of our enemies,) industriously avoid attacking, or meeting the French Indians; or when they meet, treat each other as friends; whereby they are encouraged in their cruel practice of butchering those who are not in arms, and even those who are unable to bear arms-women and children."
The assembly, determined to continue its quarrel with the governor, neglected the customary civility of voting an | address. But the situation of the country forbade entire inaction, and a petition from the inhabitants of Kinderhook, accompanying the special message, contained a pathetic appeal to the assembly for a garrison of fifty men for their defence, and a like number of rangers to traverse the woods to the northward and eastward. Moved by this appeal, resolutions were passed directing the employment of one hundred rangers, one-half of whom were to be stationed upon the east, and the other upon the west side of the river in the county of Albany. Supplies were also voted for victualling the levies for the term of three months, beyond the twenty-fourth of May. But the house at the same time reaffirmed its declaration of the preceding November, that it would make no provision for the transportation of any supplies beyond Albany. In regard to his excellency's proposed conference with the Indians, it farther manifested its temper by voting the beggarly allowance of one hundred and fifty pounds. Nor was this all. After passing the bill in form, pursuant to the resolutions, and before it had received the assent of the representative of the crown, the assembly adopted yet another resolution setting forth that the levies then in service, so long maintained at very great expense, had thus far been unemployed, and praying that the hundred men authorized in compliance with the Kinderhook memorial, should be detached from those levies-from the little army destined against Canada! The pay proposed in the bill was one shilling per diem, over and above the wages allowed and paid by the crown. Eight days afterward, the governor not yet having approved the bill, the assembly, availing itself of a memorial from Albany giving a melancholy representation of the suffering and defenceless situation of that country, as if purposely to chafe his excellency by farther insult, sent up an address of affected tenderness and solicitude for the condition of the frontier settlers, and praying him no longer to withhold his assent from the measure they had been so prompt to enact.
In his reply to this address, the governor went into a full and elaborate vindication of his conduct during the last eventful year of his administration,-rehearsing his labors and exertions in the public service, for which he had been so unworthily requited. In regard to the bill presented for his approbation, his excellency said he looked upon the allowance of the extra shilling per diem, as altogether inadequate, considering the character and severity of the service, the extra expenses to which the rangers were subject by the wear and tear of their clothes when plunging into morasses, climbing mountains, or threading the deep- tangled woods. He denied that the levies had been inactive, and gave an account of the dispositions that had been made of them. The invasion of Canada having been necessarily deferred, the next object of the executive had been to make an advanced movement in that direction, for the purpose of forming a winter encampment at the carrying place, and for the construction of fortifications at the heads of -the two lakes, Champlain and St. Sacrament,-measures of the first importance, and of the greatest efficiency in affording protection to the frontiers against the predatory bands so frequently issuing from Crown Point. But his purposes had been frustrated by the conduct of the assembly respecting the provisions at Albany; and also by reason of a waste of time, the consequence of which was, that the levies, instead of advancing to the designated point, had been compelled to halt and winter at Saratoga, -an ill-chosen and unsafe locality for a military position, In all these proceedings his excellency said he had had the concurrence of Governor Shirley, as well as of the other colonies uniting in the prosecution of the war. They had all evinced a willingness to share the expense, but in the expectation, of course, that as New York was the most immediately interested in the result of the contest, she would set a cheerful example in meeting the exigency. After reciting various measures that had been adopted for the common security, his excellency intimated that points other than those enumerated, would have been occupied and fortified, but for the obstinate refusal of the assembly to appropriate even the sums necessary for their own safety. He upbraided them for the disrespect with which they had, treated his speech at the opening of the session, although in the preparation of that speech he had carefully avoided everything which he supposed could have a tendency to revive the unpleasant difficulties of the former session. Referring to the many difficulties he had been obliged to encounter, especially at Albany, he did not conceal his belief that they had been fomented by the opulent traders of that city, who had grown rich by their trade with Canada, and who were desirous of preserving the neutrality of the Six Nations. He likewise intimated a suspicion that there were Roman Catholic emissaries in the colony,-artful and cunning men,-engaged in treasonable practices,- "dangerous instruments for the destruction of the religion and liberty of the land." In conclusion he said, that notwithstanding the opposition they had made to his measures, there was nothing in his power which he would not cheerfully do "for the security of the frontiers, and to preserve the inhabitants from the incursions of a cruel and barbarous enemy."
On the subject of the suspected disloyalty of some of the people of Albany, to which reference had been made in the message,-charging them in effect with leaguing with the enemy to obstruct the operations against Canada, the governor wrote to Colonel Johnson as follows:
Governor Clinton to Colonel Johnson.
"NEW YORK, April 25th, 1747.
" You will find by a paragraph of a message I sent to the assembly yesterday, that I have taken notice of the endeavors which I suspect some people of Albany have used for to obtain a kind of neutrality between them and Canada.
"You told me of some private messages you heard had been sent by Indians for the purpose. Send me a particular account of what you know and have heard on that subject, and of what you can now, or at any time after this, learn by farther inquiry. I expect you will use all the diligence possible to discover every part of this scheme, and in what manner it has been carried on. I long much to hear from you, for we have most villainous reports spread. I hope the Indians all remain steadfast, and in good health.
"In the bill I am going to pass, the council did not think it proper to put rewards for scalping or taking poor women or children prisoners in it; but the assembly has assured me the money shall be paid when it so happens, if the Indians insist upon it.
" I am, Sir,
"Your very humble serv't,
" G. CLINTON."
" To Colonel Johnson."
Those portions of the message alleging that the house had treated his excellency with disrespect, and charging it with neglecting to provide for the safety of the colony, as also the paragraph containing the imputation upon the Albany traders, were received with high displeasure,-real or affected,-and a committee was appointed by resolution with instructions to prepare an answer. The appointment of this committee was made on the twenty-fourth of April and for several days immediately subsequent, the assembly met but only to adjourn, without proceeding to business. At length, in order to give the members time to abate their choler, the house Was adjourned from the second of May to the twelfth, and again to the nineteenth of May.
While these disputes between the executive and his assembly were in progress in the city of New York, affairs at the north were in a sad Condition. The levies who had been kept in service during the winter, clamorous for their pay, were almost in a state of mutiny. The officers wrote from Saratoga that they were fearful the garrison would desert in a body. Colonel Roberts wrote to colonel Johnson, announcing the desertion of thirty-four men from a single company; the garrison at Saratoga had become so much weakened, as to create apprehensions that the post would be lost; while the officers wrote to the governor from Albany, that they could not persuade the designated quotas of the northern militia companies to march for the defence of that jeoparded position. During the months of April and May, the communications spread before the executive council upon the subject, were of the most urgent character.
(1) The gentlemen forming this committee were, David Clarkson, Cornelius Van Home, Paul Richard, Henry Cruger, Frederick Phillipse, John Thomas, Lewis Morris, David Pierson, and William Nicholl Smith, in a note, suggests that the reflection upon the Albany traders, was intended by the governor as a cut at DeLancey, whose father, many years before, during the administration of Governor Burnett had been largely benefited by the Indian trade with Canada through Lake Champlain. But Clinton's private letter to Johnson, now first brought to light, shows that he was acting in perfect good faith-having reason to believe the imputation just.
Funds for the payment of the troops in part, were remitted ; but partial payments by no means sufficed; the discontents became more impatient; and on the thirty-first of May, a dispatch was received from Colonel Roberts, announcing that the levies upon all the frontier stations had united in a solemn resolution that unless their whole pay should be immediately forthcoming, they would desert en masse, and pay themselves by the plunder of the city and county of Albany. Additional remittances were made with all possible alacrity; but Mr. Clinton nevertheless cautioned the officers against paying at once all that was due, lest from the prevailing spirit of insubordination they might still desert the moment their pockets should be filled. Not long before this, two Mohawk Indians had been discovered in an attempt to kill and scalp some of Captain Tiebout's company, stationed at Schenectady. They were lying in wait for that object, and had wounded one man. Roberts wrote to Johnson upon the matter, and as the offenders had been secured, the latter advised that they should be surrendered to their own people for punishment.(l)
The committee charged with the preparation of an address to the governor, made their report on the nineteenth of May. It was very long, extending to nearly eight large folio printed pages; and as it was read to the house, approved, engrossed, and presented to his excellency all on the same afternoon, it must have been evident that its terms, even to a letter, had been previously settled by what is in modern times designated a caucus, and the labor of engrossing performed in anticipation. The spirit of the address was very bitter, though sweetened by terms of ill- dissembled courtesy. They protested with the utmost gravity that it had been far from the intention of the house to give his excellency the least occasion of offence by their former resolutions. The suggestion for the employment of one hundred men to be taken from the levies as rangers, had been made, they averred, in compliance with applications
(1) Journals of the council board.
to that effect from the people of Albany; and a precedent for the adoption of that course had been found in the course of his excellency's own proceedings at Albany the year before. By the remark that " the levies had hitherto been unemployed," they meant no more than to say what was known to all, that they had not been employed in the Canada expedition. They were "much concerned that this misconstruction of their innocent intentions," should have induced his excellency to give so full a history as he had done, of his conduct in defence of the country during the preceding year, since in doing so he "had taken the trouble of relating many particulars well known before." They acknowledged the importance of preserving the friendship of the Six Nations, and rehearsed their own proceedings to that end during the entire period of his administration. It was admitted that the crown had defrayed the charges of the great council at Albany of the preceding year; but for the expenses of the council of the year before that, they had voted one thousand pounds, besides appropriations for his excellency's own personal expenses ; and they intimated an opinion that while they had not been informed what sums had been actually disbursed for presents to the Indians, there were not wanting individuals who had profited largely in that branch of the service. Yet, notwithstanding all the expenditures upon the Indians, and the pains that had been taken to secure their friendship, they had not joined in the war to any considerable extent. In regard to the governor himself, they had received him with distinguished consideration on his arrival; and in consequence of the efforts he was understood to have made in behalf of the colony before his embarkation for his government, they had voted him a gratuity of a thousand pounds, and had moreover, ill as the colony could bear the expense, caused a new and elegant house to be built for his residence, in conformity to his own plans, besides raising as much for his support as had been allowed to any of his predecessors. In reviewing the events of the war and their own acts for sustaining the public service, they recurred to the destruction of Saratoga, two years before, as an event that might not have happened but for the withdrawing of the independent companies from that post. Afterward, at the governor's request, they had appropriated money for rebuilding that fort, which was done, and the works garrisoned by the militia, at the expense of the colony. In addition to this they had also at the governor's request, made appropriations for building other forts to guard the frontier passes. Yet again, the plan of defence having been changed, they had voted money for building a chain of blockhouses from the New England border to the castles of the Mohawks; but this plan being in turn abandoned, the money was diverted to the payment and subsistence of detachments of the militia posted upon the frontiers by the governor during the recess of the assembly. They admitted the importance of guarding the passes of the great carrying-place by suitable fortifications, but shrunk from the expense, both for the building, and for the maintenance of garrisons. The other exposed colonies had an equal interest with New York in building and sustaining those defences, and they thought the expense should be shared among them,-intimating a doubt, however, notwithstanding the assurances of his excellency upon that point, whether the colonies referred to would in fact be willing to bear a portion of the burden. Touching his excellency's complaint that his projected northern encampment had been frustrated, and the division of levies destined upon that service compelled by the climate to fall back upon Saratoga for winter quarters, knowing the severity of that climate as they did, they had anticipated as much; and as to the unsuitableness of the locality, as now averred by his excellency, it had at least been rebuilt there by his own directions. His excellency's reference to the difficulties at Albany, the previous autumn, in regard to the delivery and transportation of provisions, whereby as was alleged, his plans had been defeated, was tartly answered. "If," they said, "your excellency means thereby the refusal of "the commissioners to deliver the provisions contrary to "the law you were pleased to pass but a little before, the " house had occasion to give your excellency their thoughts " upon it in their resolves of the seventeenth of November "last, which were by order of the house laid before your "excellency, to which we beg leave to refer." Rehearsing, next, in reply to the charge of the governor that they had not shown a disposition even " to take care of themselves," they pointed to the previous measures they had adopted for the public defence, and the appropriations, among which was one of forty thousand pounds for the northern expedition, as irrefragable proofs of the reality and sincerity of their intentions,-suggesting that if his excellency, on cool reflection did not think them so, "they must be so unhappy "as to despair of giving him satisfaction on that head." They said the appropriations they had made of nine pounds per man for the enlistment of sixteen companies of one hundred men each, and the provisioning of those companies, were nearly exhausted; and they intimated a belief that in the erection of fortifications, great waste had been indulged, and much needless expense incurred for the want of competent engineers. Whenever they should have reason to believe that their money would not be advanced in vain for this department of the public service, and whenever they should have an earnest that the other colonies were prepared to cooperate in the work of mutual protection, they would be found ready to vote for such additional fortifications as might be judged necessary. In regard to the statement in the governor's opening speech, that an agreement had been made with the commissioners of Massachusetts for building the two forts so often recommended, at the passes of the carrying-place, and also in respect to the forces to be raised by the several colonies expected to cooperate in the Canadian invasion, and the rates of expense for each, the assembly was surprised, inasmuch as the governor had but three members of his council with him, while Massachusetts alone of the other colonies was represented at the conference, that his excellency should have entered upon any such agreement. Moreover as they were in the daily expectation of advices from England, hoping withal for the speedy arrival of experienced officers, they trusted his excellency would excuse the house for its opinion, " that they could not in conscience provide for schemes the " execution of which would he very hazardous, and put "the colony to great expense." They told the governor plainly, that " ever since he had thought fit to place his confidence in a person obnoxious to, and censured by the house, the public affairs had been much perplexed, and had not been attended with the steadiness and good conduct which their importance required. They attributed several of his excellency's late speeches to that person, declaring / that until the day when he was taken into favor the utmost harmony had existed between all the branches of the government. These thrusts were aimed at Doctor Golden, the lance having been barbed by DeLancey, the master-spirit in fomenting these dissensions. Respecting the charges against the people of Albany, entire disbelief in the justice of the imputation was expressed,-the mind of his excellency having probably been poisoned upon that subject by the individual to whom reference had already been made as an abuser of his confidence. If the people of Albany were indeed engaged in treasonable practices, they marveled that none of them had been arrested and brought to trial. In answer to his excellency's apprehension that Popish emissaries had been engaged in sowing dissensions and kindling every spark of discontent, the house seized upon the suggestion and applied it to a person then in great favor with Mr. Clinton in the Indian service-Mr. John Henry Lydius, son of a former Dutch minister in Albany, and of course bred a Protestant; who had resided several years in Canada; married a wife there of the Romish church, after having abjured his own religion ; and whom they declared to be a person of desperate fortunes. They admitted the great skill of this man "in all the weaknesses of human nature, but wondered how he could have secured his excellency's favor. To him, and his intrigues in Albany, and among the Indians, the assembly attributed many of the difficulties that had arisen. He had been the means of undermining the influence of the Indian commissioners, and distracting the affairs of that department. They nevertheless admitted that there might possibly be some Popish emissaries in the province; but at the same time there was equal reason to believe that there were other men screening themselves behind the curtain, and answering all the ends of such emissaries,-men of wrong heads and worse hearts, who were doing infinite evil by infusing groundless jealousies into his excellency's mind. They next told the governor that although they were not disposed to listen to every idle tale, yet they had hoped that before that period the report might have reached his ears, that there had been a large embezzlement of the funds appropriated for Indian presents in 1745,-one thousand pounds having been voted, while not more than three hundred pounds worth of goods had reached the hands of those for whom they were designed. So at least it was said by persons who saw the goods delivered. They also informed the governor,-for the benevolent purpose of enabling him to bring the authors of the scandal to justice,-that a report was current to the effect that French and Spanish prisoners had been sold under the authority of his name, for a pistole a head, to owners and captains of flags of truce. The concluding paragraph contained another pungent reference to Doctor Golden, whose designing artifices and private views, " although they had hitherto been providentially blasted, " it was still feared might at length spring up again, and "bear a greater increase, which God forbid."
Mr. Clinton's reply to the address, which was presented on the twenty-sixth of May, was brief and emphatic. He remarked upon the rapidity with which the address had been hurried through the house,-two hours only having elapsed from the time when it was reported by the committee until its presentation all engrossed! " You shall have,'' said the governor, "the best answer to this representation you can expect. I shall take all possible care that it he laid before his majesty and his ministers, who are the proper judges of my conduct. I doubt not that the ministry will discern with what spirit it is made, and for what purposes." Commanding an adjournment for a week, the indomitable sailor-governor then dismissed his refractory little parliament.
Reassembling on the second of June, they were met by an executive message calling their attention to the distractions prevailing among the levies at the north, for want of their pay. The governor informed them that thus far these levies had been paid by the crown, he himself having provided the means by drawing bills of exchange. The amount thus drawn was then nine thousand pounds, the whole of which he declared should be applied to the payment of the new levies. Although these bills had all been drawn by the advice of his council, yet his excellency began to fear, or pretended to fear, that they might not all be honored, in which event his private fortune might be involved. Though willing to draw yet farther for that object, yet he was not willing to jeopard his own estate,- believing, as he did, that every man in the province was as much bound as himself to contribute from his private means for the safety of the people. Indemnification against the consequences of a protest of his bills, should he be required to draw anymore of them, was therefore demanded in justice to his own family.
The house, in answer, referred to ft letter from the duke of Newcastle of April, 1746, authorizing the necessary preparations for the long-projected expedition, with an assurance that the forces to be raised, officers as well as rank and tile, should be taken into his majesty's pay. It was therefore clearly not intended by the crown that the payment of these forces should in any event be devolved upon the people of the colony; and the refusal of the governor to continue his drafts would imply a distrust of the king, and render himself personally answerable for the lives and estates of his subjects. Entertaining these views, the assembly peremptorily refused the act of guaranty,- declaring at the same time that as his excellency had the means of paying the forces in his own hands, should he refuse to use them, and should the lives and estates of the people be endangered by the threatened desertion of the levies, " his excellency alone would be to blame." From the fourth of June to the same day of August, the assembly only met to adjourn. Meantime the governor replenished his exchequer by the usual resort to bills of exchange, and on the nineteenth of June embarked for Albany, in order, if possible, to put an end to the troubles with the levies.
I must not lose sight of Sir Peter Warren, whose name, as an adopted citizen of New York, belongs to its history. France, smarting under the loss of Cape Breton, and mortified at the disastrous failure of D'Anville's armada, determined again to put forth her energies for the recovery of Louisburg, and the resuscitation of her naval character -of late so deeply compromised. To these ends, therefore, another fleet was equipped, at Brest, destined against Louisburg early in the spring, under the command of M. de la Jonquiere. The duty of watching the motions, and, if possible, of intercepting this fleet, was assigned to Vice Admiral Anson,-a widely different man from Admiral Lestock, whose equivocal conduct, on the French coast, when engaged in the like service, has already been recorded. It has already been said that Sir Peter Warren returned to England in the autumn of 1746. In the beginning of the year following he was appointed second in command under Mr. Anson, hoisting his pennant on board the Devonshire, of sixty-six guns. The Brest fleet, uniting a large convoy of Indiamen, and numbering, in all, thirty-eight ships, proceeded to sea about the last of April, It was fallen in with by Admiral Anson, on the third of May, off Cape Finisterre. When descried, nine of the ships,-men of war, mounting from eighteen to seventy-four guns,-were shortening sail and drawing into a line of battle, while the remainder of the fleet, consisting of the vessels under convoy, stretched to the west with all the sails they could set. Anson immediately formed his fleet into a line; but observing by the maneuvers of the enemy that his object was to gain time, for the purpose, probably, of escaping under favor of the night, then approaching, he made signal for the whole fleet to close and engage the enemy, without any regard to the line of battle.(1) In the course of the action that ensued, Warren had an opportunity which he failed not to improve, of signalizing and covering himself with glory. He ran his ship, the Devonshire, up with Le Serieux, the flagship of M. de la Jonquiere, and after receiving his fire, which was well-directed, closed within pistol-shot, and continued to engage in the most daring and brilliant style, until the enemy struck. Having silenced his antagonist, Warren proceeded next to encounter the Invincible, seventy-four, commanded by M. de St. George, the second officer of the enemy's squadron. Being seconded by the Bristol, Captain Montague, the Invincible was in a short time dismasted and taken by Warren. The general action was short and brilliant, resulting in the capture of the whole French squadron, consisting of six ships of two decks, including the Gloire, of forty-four guns, and four frigates.(2) It is true that Anson's fleet was greatly superior in the appointment of ships and guns. Three of his ships, however, participated in the action but a very few moments, -having been detached as soon as the Frenchmen were so far crippled as probably to render them unable to get away, with all the sail they could press, after the enemy's flying Indiamen.(3) The loss of the English was, not severe,-Captain
(1) Admiralty official report, May 16, 1747.
(3) Admiralty report.
Grenville being the only officer of note who was killed. The French were greater sufferers,-M. de la Jonquiere himself was shot under the blade bones of both his shoulders, but the wounds were not mortal. In the month of July following this memorable engagement, being stationed with a squadron off Cape Finisterre, Sir Peter fell in with four valuable merchant ships of the enemy convoyed by two men of war, which ran into a bay on the island of Sisarga, and being closely pursued they all ran on shore. One of the men of war, mounting forty-four guns, was fired by the crew and blown up before Warren's boats could board her; but the merchantmen were all got oft' and brought into Plymouth the next day, being the twenty-second of July. Warren was now floating in the tide of fortune, for very shortly after taking these noble prizes at Sisarga, he fell in with and captured a considerable fleet of French West Indiamen. According to one account, this fleet consisted of a very large number of ships, though Charnock, in his biography of Warren, makes no mention of this affair.(1) Sir Peter's gallantry on these occasions, was rewarded by his farther promotion to the rank of admiral of the white. He sailed again from Spithead on a cruise, on the second of September, but falling sick was compelled to relinquish his command and go on shore. But glory had not been the only reward of his splendid career. The number of his captures had produced an ample fortune, which he invested in part, by purchasing a country-seat in Westbury, Hampshire county, to which he now retired. His circumstances must indeed have been affluent. At least so thought some of his relatives, as appears from the following extract from a letter from his nephew, Captain Warren Johnson, to his brother the colonel. This letter also corroborates the preceding account of the last great capture of West India merchantmen, not mentioned by Oharnock:
(1) Gentleman's Magazine.
Captain Warren Johnson to his Brother.
" NEW YORK, September 13, 1747.
" Dear Brother:
" Last evening I arrived here from Louisburg, in order
to go to England in the Scarborough man of war.
* * * * * * * * * * *
" I make no doubt you have heard of my uncle "Warren's
great success in his two cruises, the first with Admiral Anson, and the second
with a squadron of which he was commander-in-chief-part of which fell in with
the St. Domingo fleet, and took sixty-two sail of them. He had taken several
rich ships before. He must now be one of the richest men in England, and not
one has done his country so much service. He must be worth three or four hundred
thousand pounds sterling. He is now vice admiral of the white, and a member
of parliament from Westminster, and I have no doubt in a very short time he
will be a peer of England, there being no person better able to maintain that
* * * * * * * * * * *
"Your most affectionate Brother,
In the autumn of this year, Sir Peter was returned to parliament. He was likewise at about the same time presented with a large silver monteth, of curious workmanship, by the inhabitants of Barbadoes, in acknowledgment of his services in the cruise of that season.(1) The exultation of Sir Peter's relatives at his good fortune, was justifiable, for they had been bravely won.
(1) Gentleman's Magazine.
Thanks to James F. Morrison for loaning his book for the purpose of putting it on the internet.
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