페이지 이미지
PDF
ePub

of Philadelph action came agement to sthe principles tunity

known to both the British and American armies by the nick-name of “No-flint'; and he never lost an opportunity in future of impressing upon his men the principles which had brought this little engagement to so successful an issue.

Grey's next action came shortly after Howe's occupation of Philadelphia, when Washington attempted to surprise and overwhelm the British in their camp before the city at Germantown. The enterprise was a bold one; but Washington's plan-namely, to descend upon the British simultaneously with four different columns in four different quarters—was too complicated for a half-trained army, and was not made the simpler by the fact that a great many of the Americans, both officers and men, were exceedingly drunk. A dense fog, which came on just at the opening of the action, did not mend matters ; but perhaps the most unfortunate part of Washington's combinations was a design to occupy Grey's brigade, which lay on Howe's extreme left, by a feint attack. Grey, who was always marvellously cool and clear headed, calmly met the feint attack by a feint defence, and, using the bulk of his brigade as though it had been a reserve, first broke up the American centre by falling on its flank, and then proceeding to Howe's right, which was very hardly pressed, routed the Americans in that quarter also. Poor Washington retired with the loss of over a thousand men, complaining loudly that his troops had retreated at the moment of victory; the real fact being that Grey, instantly penetrating his plans, had roved from one end of the field to the other, striking hard just where his blow would fall heaviest, and therefore deciding the issue of the fight wherever he struck.

The campaign closed with the final reduction of the defences about Philadelphia ; and it is much in Howe's favour that Grey thought him right to attempt no more. Meanwhile, however, the disaster at Saratoga had changed the whole aspect of affairs. The French formed an alliance with the revolted colonies in the spring of 1778. Howe went home, having resigned his command; and his successor, General Clinton, evacuating Philadelphia, brought the army back to New York. There it remained, too weak for the present for more than desultory raids upon isolated ports or posts of the enemy. But Grey possessed a perfect genius for the organisation and execution of these predatory expeditions. Was there a snug little haven where American privateers could be provisioned and refitted under the shelter of a battery? A few battalions were shipped under General Grey; a landing was effected under the shades of evening in some neighbouring inlet; before dawn 'No-flint' was in the midst of the sleeping Americans; by noon every cannon, store-house, and stick of shipping had been destroyed, and Grey's force, diminished by a very few casualties, was embarked and on its way to work similar destruction elsewhere. On one occasion a raid of this kind was conducted on so large a scale that Grey held but a subordinate position; and it is noteworthy that his column alone fulfilled its mission with his wonted deadly accuracy. As usual he made his assault at night with the bayonet, and killed or captured every man of an entire American regiment. The Americans raised a loud outcry against the cruelty of these attacks, and it is certain that the carnage was sometimes very great. But killing is, after all, the business of war; and it is diffi. cult to hold men's hands in nocturnal fighting with the bayonet. Speaking generally, there was no very bitter feeling of English against Americans nor of Americans against English in the field during this war; but when American Whig met American Tory, both parties frequently behaved little better than savages.

The campaign of 1778 was the last in which Grey took part in America. He came home sick at the end of the year or early in 1779; and our next sight of him is as a witness before the Committee appointed by the House of Commons to enquire into General Howe's conduct of the war. Here he spoke his mind with greater freedom than the majority of the officers examined, strenuously upholding the correctness of Howe's proceedings thoughout. His evidence must have been unpalatable both to Government and Opposition, for, while disposing very summarily of the accusations of barbarity against Howe, he reserved his heaviest strokes for the Minister who conducted the war, the Lord George Germaine who, as Lord George Sackville, had disgraced himself at Minden. Clearly but ruthlessly he showed that the blame for Burgoyne's disaster at Saratoga lay not with Howe but with Germaine; and he summarised the whole position with formidable terseness. The reduction of America is impossible with our present force; it is uncertain with any force; but we have never had a sufficient force there. Herein lies the whole secret of our failure in the American War of Independence. Had the colonists been united, and had one in three of them really felt strongly about the subject of dispute with England, they would have driven us from the continent in two campaigns. But, as affairs actually stood, an addition of fifteen thousand men, for which Howe had earnestly entreated at the end of 1776, would probably have decided the issue forthwith, and would have offered no opening to France to interfere. When once the French fleet was thrown into the scale the result of the contest, as Grey said, became uncertain, no matter what might be the strength of the forces in America.

Grey was not long left unemployed. In the summer of 1779 the united fleets of France and Spain entered the Channel, and rode there for some weeks triumphant, with sixty-six sail of the line. Instantly there was a panic over the safety of Plymouth; and Major-General Grey was sent down to inspect the port and to take charge of its defence. It was higb time, for he found the second arsenal of England so much neglected as to be open to easy capture by a coup-de-main. "The defence of the place,' he wrote in a terse journal, which now lies before us, seems to depend on “the consultation of the Commander-in-Chief, the Navy · Board, the Admiralty, the Ordnance and the Victualling *Board; it is therefore not surprising that nothing has

been done.' The garrison consisted of four thousand men, chiefly militia infantry; the fortifications were either obsolete or out of repair; and there were only thirty veteran artillerymen (invalids, as they were then called) to work one hundred and seventy-nine guns. Hasty arrangements were made that the seamen should leave the ships in harbour and man the batteries in case of emergency; but Grey, mistrusting such a makeshift arrangement, began at once to train some of the militia men as gunners. Meanwhile he obtained tools for the repair of the fortifications; whereupon the resident engineer declined to sanction the work without the orders of the Board of Ordnance, Four days were wasted in obtaining these orders, and a week later, on August 17, the hostile fleets came into sight. Suddenly, on the same afternoon, the alarm-guns were fired, and all was apprehension. As Grey had foreseen, it was five hours before the seamen could disembark to man the batteries, and those five hours were, we suspect, among the most miserable of his life. Fortunately the alarm proved to be false; for no regular code of signals had been established in the port whether to give the alarm or for any other purpose. Three days later, on August 20, Admiral Lord Shuldham, came ashore to consult the generals. Grey and the Governor proposed the construction of a boom. The Admiral flatly rejected the suggestion. On the following

rusting such the militia mert the fortifications work withou

Plymout If he de at on orders this m

day the Admiral, changing his mind, ordered the boom to be begun; whereupon the Navy Board promptly ordered that it should be discontinued. Finally, the country gentlemen flocked into the town, bringing their workmen with them, and began to repair the fortifications under Grey's direction; upon which the Admiral, in defiance of all protests, withdrew the seamen from the batteries and left the place practically defenceless. Fortunately the allied fleets withdrew from the Channel without doing the least damage; but though Grey remained at Plymouth until the early summer of 1780, he could effect but little. If he issued orders to the chief engineer, the Board of Ordnance at once, and without a word to the General, issued contradictory orders to supersede them. Grey could not even obtain blankets for bis men in the winter until a clerk in London had cudgelled his brains to remember where he had caused them to be stored. The story is almost incredible; but we have it in Grey's own hand, so that there can be no doubt about it. In the midst of the record of folly and mismanagement comes the following terse entry, under date of March 16, 1780: 'A detach'ment of Hessians and New York Volunteers arrived in the lines this morning, being part of Sir Henry Clinton's expedition, driven into St. Ives Bay.' The reader would hardly gather from this sentence that Sir Henry Clinton's expedition had sailed from New York in December 1779, and that its destination was Charleston in Carolina ; so that these two hundred unfortunate men had actually been blown helplessly across the Atlantic. In these days we hardly realise what must have been the anxieties of generals and the sufferings of soldiers on these old enterprises over sea.

In 1782 Grey was promoted lieutenant-general and created Knight of the Bath, rewards which he had thoroughly earned. It seems that his representations as to the state of Plymouth were not without effect, for in 1785 a commission, of which he was a member, was appointed to report as to the defences of the dockyards. Grey was one of a large majority which advocated the fortification both of Plymouth and Portsmouth; but the proposal was very coldly received in Parliament. Pitt therefore, in 1786, brought forward a motion affirming as an abstract principle the expediency of fortifying the dockyards ; but, amazing as it now appears, this was actually lost by the Speaker's casting vote. Sheridan and Fox were the principal speakers on the side of the majority. But the insecurity of the dockyards was by no means the only military danger which threatened the

country. The army and navy were practically mere collections of officers, well trained indeed by the recent war, but without men. For twenty years before the younger Pitt took office, generals and admirals had represented that the pay of their men was too small; and at the outset of Pitt's administration the Adjutant-General pointed out that the ranks of the army could not be filled, since the man who took the King's shilling was foredoomed to literal starvation. Unhappily such remonstrances fell on deaf ears.

There can be little doubt, we think, that Pitt strove long and honestly to abstain from any interference with the internal affairs of France during the early years of the Revolution. Indeed, the reduction of the army at the beginning of 1792 is clear proof of the friendliness of his intentions towards that country. Within a year, however, he found himself at war with the Republic--a war which probably could not have been averted by any means—and with neither an army nor a navy. Pitt's own idea for bringing France to reason was based on considerations congenial to his financial mind. The immediate cause of the French Revolution had been a large deficit, which it was customary to describe as national bankruptcy. Since 1789 that deficit had been enorinously increased, and the resources of France greatly diminished by reckless mismanagement, waste, and extravagance. All industry was paralysed, all trade at a standstill. There remained to her only her possessions in the West Indies, Martinique, Guadeloupe, and St. Lucia, all of them rich islands, to windward, and St. Domingo (the wealthiest colony in the world) to leeward. If these islands were captured, France's last source of income would be cut off, and her power must collapse from sheer want of money. Every circumstance and every argument seemed to favour such a plan of campaign. First, there was a precedent set by the great Chatham himself for the capture of the French West Indies ; secondly, overtures had been received both from St. Domingo and Martinique for placing those islands under the protection of the King of England; thirdly, these possessions would be useful pledges to hold in hand against the day of general pacification ; lastly (and this was most important), a West Indian campaign could not open until November, and between February and November there would be time to raise the necessary troops. By attacks on the West Indies and a little timely help to the Royalists in Brittany or La Vendée the disorders in France would be VOL. CXOVI. NO. OCCCII.

FF

the weathe Last Solapse argumen

November, an West Indification ; las to hold in the

« 이전계속 »