History From America's Most Famous Valleys
The Orderly Book of Sir John Johnson
During the Oriskany Campaign
Annotated by Wm. L. Stone
With an Historical Introduction illustrating the Life of Johnson by J. Watts De Peyster, and Some Tracings from the Foot-Prints of the Tories, or Loyalists in America by T. R. Myers.
Joel Munsell, 1882
REPUTATION AT THE CANNON'S MOUTH AND THE CHANCES IN ITS TRANSMISSION.
Dr. Timothy Dwight, as the nephew of General Lyman, who with his father was an early settler of the Territory of the Natchez, at least showed a natural sentiment in vindicating the claim of his uncle as a worthy subordinate, to the merit he considered his due. Errors have always been claimed to exist in the distribution of credit for service. Time long since accorded the glory of two important victories to Sir "William Johnson-one at Lake George in the summer of 1755, when Baron Dieskau, a veteran of the Continental Wars was defeated, another the capture of Niagara, four years later. The whole life of that self-educated soldier, had in all its details been sustained by his gallantry, and he early carried his son to the field to teach him the art of war. Possibly he may have been remiss as Dr. Dwight has claimed, in distributing some of his laurels Co his officers, or the New England troops disposed, in the existing jealousy, to claim too many of them. The moment of victory has proved best adapted to settle relative merit, while all present are familiar with facts from observation. That passed, it has often proved as difficult where the credit of victory naturally falls to the Commander-as to ascertain now who aided to win the laurels of Caesar, Hannibal or Philip, if without record in history.
In cases of disaster, the blame at once falls upon the leader, regardless of who stumbled, and no one competes for a share. His son and successor probably fought as bravely in his detested invasions, and yet wears in some history the willow decreed to failure. Many of the friends of General de Peyster, will be gratified in his probable success in vindicating the honor and courage of his relative.
Mrs. Grundy in her "Observations in Utopia" refers to a notable case of another military muddle in its history, she says:
"There was some difference of opinion here, some time since, as to the advantage of the correction of accepted historical error, too late for practical use. In its course, a case was cited as occurring in the former wars of Utopia. It was occasioned by the carelessness or paramount personal engagements of a civilian acting as Secretary to a former honored Commander-in-Chief, Marshal Dauntless, an approved soldier."
"That gallant officer, had intended to lead the attack in person, at the great battle of " Ouvrir la Porte," and to head his forces, as he had often done. He had prepared the plan of the engagement before it occurred, showing his special command in the advance. The burning of a bridge in front of his position, preventing his reaching that post in season, caused him to alter his plan on the day before the attack and to order General Fearless, his second in command to advance with his light division, giving him an opportunity substantially to flank the fortifications, necessarily passing under a heavy fire and to attack the enemy supporting them in great force, if he found it practicable, before he-with every possible exertion--could come to his relief with the needed support of heavier artillery, and equalize the struggle, and shell out the batteries. The division commander with a very inadequate force, and mainly with a small section of it, only succeeded by a desperate coup de main in passing the works, meeting at and above them, the entire force of the enemy and mainly fighting the battle wich the single division in the advance, before his commander could possibly reach the enemy and gallantly complete the victory. Gen. Fearless reaching the important post above them in advance of all support, and when the Marshal came up, landed, and received its surrender."
"After that great triumph, the commander of the entire force, to whom the honor of both its conception and achievement would naturally be given, sent his division commander-whom he loved, with the Intelligence, to the seat of government, intending that he should receive his reward In thanks and promotion for the glory he had so materially aided in securing eventually for himself, as Napoleon alone concentrated in due season the glory of the Egyptian campaign, and Nelson that of the Nile."
"But alas! the Citizen Secretary had affixed to the report, which was not particular in detail, the old diagram of the proposed battle instead of that of the one that was actuary fought which had been duly prepared, so falsifying his explanations. The division commander's statements were discredited by the papers he carried history of this notable feat of arms was written and illustrations executed at once, based on the erroneous account, in most of which the real leader was not referred to or included, as all present knew to be due. All this mortification fell upon the gallant division commander, in place of the merit his remarkable achievement claimed, and although the Commander-in Chief made ample correction of the records, and of the blunder of his subordinate, some years after when convinced of his error, the wound the mistake had given to a sensitive and modest nature, wentwith him to the grave. The Secretary yet survives, but some of the people here think he was a little more careless as to the record of another than he could have been of his own, and wondtr that when he read the accounts, every where printed, of his conjectured position in the line on that old battle day, he too did not do something for history, by correcting his contribution to its many errors." To avoid such delay, and to correct an error yet palpable ; it is proper to say after closer research, that Sir William offered the succession to the Superintendency of Indian Affairs, to his son in his lifetime, and that he asked to be relieved from its duties (page 187).
It is claimed that Lieut. Governor Colden-whose valuable "History of the Five Nations" had been published in 1727, and shows his knowledge of this trust-urged its acceptance on Sir John. His power to confer it, was through the absence of Governor Tryon, as Col. Guy's letter predicted. Another clerical error, occurs on page 207, stating that Col. Bouquet was born at and not in Switzerland, and one on page 210, places Colonel Lee, where Colonel William Washington actually was, waiting for equipments soon effectually used at Cowpens,
As to the Indian schools (page 202), new light has shown that this wise humanity is due more to personal benevolence than 10 the liberality of the Government.
It has been sometimes asked, why such historical papers as the handful used in the preceding pamphlet, are not in the public archives. The answer might be made that few things are In their proper place and yet many are useful.
The fact came to the writer from Mr. Francis A. Stout, a Commissioner of the State Survey, that by the defect of earlier Cartography, many places are found located even miles away from then- actual geometrical position. And yet generations have lived and died in them, and there is probably no diminution of the area or acreage, which some would realize more than this defective location.
When visiting our State Capital some years since-in connection with his project of International Ex:hange-M. Alexandre Vattemare, found men in one of its chambers packing in boxes the recently printed "Documentary History,** knee deep in old manuscripts, which were history, but used as fillers.
On his thoughtful suggestion to the Legislature, that these were not being correctly located, action was taken for the conservation of what remained , and the learned Dr. E. B. O'Callaghan-to whom we owe so much of our State History and from whom the writer had this fact, was created Curator, and laboriously catalogued those relics. Even afterwards-certainly without his knowledge, some were abstracted and Mr. John Bigelow, when Secretary of State, properly sought to reclaim them; even by circulars addressed to private collectors.
Curious papers often pass through many hands, as a merchantable article, and their migrations are also as indefinite as those of a circulating bill. Three of the grand collections of Historical manuscripts, once belonging to Rev. Dr. Sprague, of Albany, Mr. Robert Gilmor, of Baltimore, and Mr. Tefft of Savanah, have been broken up, the former, after it had been offered to the Government and State unsucessfully, fell into the already large collection, of a private gentleman in Philadelphia, where it Is likely to be preserved.
During the Civil War, as one of its evils, the high price of old paper, while the cruisers ruled commerce and shut out other material, brought out from many garrets and similar receptacles, a store of historical material of forgotten, or unknown value, to feed the paper mills, and weave material for^the transmission of later facts. It is believed that more imprinted history, was then ground up, than even now exist in public or private collections.
It is stated that at that time, many old papers were discovered an exhumed from the outbuildings of Johnson Hall, possibly some containing the key to this research. Such papers are rarely sought for public collections when exposed at public or private sale, but fall, on conditions showing at least consideration for the value of the lies of others-into the private collections of a few antiquarians, sometimes to be reduced to print for private circulation.
Many find their way from Europe, especially from England. Lately the military papers of Lord Rawdon and Sir Henry Clinton, including beautifully executed military maps made by the Royal Engineers in America have been broken up and distributed here.
As an illustration of devotion to such collection and its accomplishments, it is only just to say, that there does not probably exist a more comprehensive memorial of the men of mark who have been connected with American History since the settlements, than that formed by Dr. Emmett-elsewhere referred to. That hidden in his library and known only to few, in notably fine condition, by restoration and exhaustive illustration with portraits and views, is probably the most valuable and intelligible monument to them, erected by a single hand, from many sources, in hours devoted to recreation in an active and useful life. There are a number of others, very complete and interesting, even superior to it in some details, but as an entirety it may claim to be unequalled in condition, and it is the result of years of research.
An incident which has occurred before this Appendix is printed, is referred to as practically sustaining some of the views which have been suggested. How supply and demand govern value, how it is increased when a thing is put in the right place, and how recognition of the past shows solid progress in the present.
The venerable Robert C. Winthrop, has done a good work, in restoring the portrait of one by whom his life has been doubtless influenced; additionally so as the friendly act of a representative of early patriotism in Massachusetts, in sympathizing with those of South Carolina. The old City Hall, of Charleston, South Carolina, had been completely restored and beautified, the interior entirely rebuilt with twelve spacious rooms, all with a remarkable economy ($20,000), creditable to the officials, and suggestive to those of other cities.
In its park, a life sized statue of Pitt, Earl of Chatham, erected by the citizens in their gratitude for the repeal of the Stamp Act, and thrown down after Clinton's capture, has been remounted on a new pedestal, with the old inscription tablet sought out and replaced. Even the signs of mutilation are suggestive to patriotism and of a possible similar restoration of its headless rep/iyue, in the keeping of the New York Historical Society.
The Common Council and citizens of Charleston, showing their appreciation of the renewal of their civic home, assembled on the 15th of November, for its rededication. The Mayor-Mr. Courtenay, whose heart had been in this work, made a suggestive opening address, effectively recalling the early history of the city, its position, and his hopes in its course, referring to the services of his first predecessor - after the Intendancy - the distinguished Robert Y. Hayne , who had accepted the position, after serving as Governor and United States Senator. He showed how Hayne had labored for facilities of communication with the interior, and for the progress of the city, incidentally comparing these details of his life to those of De Witt Clinton.He then recalled a resolution passed by the citizens on his decease in 1839 to place amarble bust in the City Hall, and suggested its re-enactment, which, after his Spirited addresses, was unanimously adopted. As the News and Courier reports.
"Mayor Courtenay then said: During the visit of Governor Winthrop to city in 1880, he visited the Council Chamber to see the portrait? and other worldly art owned by the city. He called the attention to the neglected condition of Trumbull's Washington, a full length portrait of great value and historic information and urged that it be piaced in proper hands for restoration, proffering his service in advising and superintending the work. By unanimous vote of the City Council, the picture was forwarded to Governor Winthrop, and has been wonderfully renewed, and now presents as fine an appearance as when originally painted and was completed last spring, and was received in the Boston Museum of Art and kept on exhibition during the summer and fall months, and is again restored to its familiar place on the walls of our chamber. Alderman Rogers thereupon offered the lollowing resolution: WHEREAS, Our distinguished fellow countryman, Governor Winthrop, of Massachusetts, while on a visit to this city in 1880, and enjoying its relics of our olden time, became greatly Interested in the preservation of our Trumbull's Washington, and wisely suggested its repair and restoration, and to further this snd offered his most valuable services of supervision and care of this work; and whereas, through his kind offices the work of restoration has now been finally completed, and this valued picture of our city, now in its old power and life, again adorns our walls. Be it, therefore, Resolved, That the City Council of Charleston gratefully acknowledge and appreciate the valuable aid and kind personal service of Governor Winthrop in the successful accomplishment of the work of restoration of our great painting of Trumbull's Washington. The resolution was unanimously adopted.
The Mayor announced to Council that Mr. T. Bailey .Myers, of New York city, had presented to the city three rare and valuable engravings of great local interest to our citizens: 1. Sir Henry Clinton's map of the siege of Charleston, 1780, showing the city and the harbor, surrounding country, the fortifications, and position of the fleet under Vice-Admiral Mariot Arbuthnot. 2. An engraved portrait of William Pitt, Earl of Chatham, Secretary of State from the year 1757 to 1768, by James Barry, R, A., September, 1778. 3. "An exact prospect of Charleston, the metropolis of the Province of South Carolina,' an original engraving published in the London Magazine, June, 1762." In this connection, Alderman White-after a preamble again describing this small contribution, which is here omitted- "presented the following resolutions : Be it Resolved, That the thanks of the City council are due and hereby tendered to Mr. T. Bailey Myers for these valued gifts, and we assure him that his liberality is highly appreciated by the citizens of Chaleston. Resolved, That these engravings be hung on the walls of the mayor's office and carefully preserved as objects of general interest to our community. These resolutions were also unanimously adopted.** Such recollection of past traditions, in an ancient city, which gallantly resisted royalist, loyalist and tory, in the period to which these things refer, is a pleasant evidence of adhesion to early sympathies, and to the united action of the infant states.
Since the foregoing paper has been printed, even its delay for some illustration, has evidenced how the rapid progress of the world affects the smallest atom. Its suggestion of the claim of "History as a Fine Art," has been by a gratifying coincidence, in that interval sustained-with his usual ability-by the Rev. Dr. Howard Crosby, in a paper presented before the Seventy-eighth Anniversary Meeting of the New York Historica l Society, while the changes in the method of correspondence, has also lately recalled editorial notice in the columns of the "Times."
Concurrence of thought, we know naturally exists as to many subjects of varied importance in a nation of fifty millions, including great intelligence. Differences of confusion are often more conspicuous. The comparison of opinions in public in any form, may demonstrate the value of convictions to some, call forth the sympathy of others, who have entertained without expressing them, or at least open them to correction. Thought has always been considered a safe predecessor to action.
At least, in public affairs it would appear that advanced methods of legislation claim careful deliberate consideration by their presenters as well as by the representative, and, that hasty action is only justified where circumstances demand the experiment. That admitted. Dr. Crosby, who as a private citizen takes an active interest in current public administration, might be induced hereafter to show, how the entire record of American statesmanship- conformed to the example of many of its former and present elements, was affording a noble example of self devotion in constructing history, and that the creation ae well as the condensation, had just claim to be considered as a fine Art.
Many wise and pertinent suggestions, contained in the President's recent message, appear to offer material for the action of statesmanship, rising above party or local considerations, and according with a widely expressed sentiment in favor of such more considerate and prudent legislation as would seen to best assure the prosperity and permanency of our institutions.
Copyright © 1998, -- 2003. Berry Enterprises. All rights reserved. All items on the site are copyrighted. While we welcome you to use the information provided on this web site by copying it, or downloading it; this information is copyrighted and not to be reproduced for distribution, sale, or profit.