Page images




It is with peculiar felicity that your Excellency is recognized as one among the few survivors of that heroic band, who have been crowned with military honors for glorious achievements at an era when our republic was in its infancy, and in peril for its existence. This production, though aspiring not to the dignified title of history, may revive in your recollection scenes and events of the deepest interest, in which you nobly participated, and may afford to the rising generation lessons of instruction and motives for gratitude to their progenitors, when we shall be at rest. Long may those public virtues and that philanthropy, which are so eminently your characteristics, continue to cement the love and gratitude of the people, and may the benedictions of Heaven be your final reward. With sentiments of profound veneration for the patriotic warrior and statesman, this work is dedicated, By your Excellency's obedient,

and very humble servant,

JAMES THACHER. Plymouth, January 1st, 1823.

The following is a correct copy of a letter from the late President Adams to the author. To a suggestion whether the words “ I have seen in any history of that period,” were not too strong, the venerable writer, with some warmth, insisted that they were true, and would make no alteration, saying he wrote them expressly for publication.

[ocr errors]

Quincy, 11th September, 1824. DEAR SIR,

I have had read to me your valuable Journal of your campaigns in the American revolutionary war, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is the most natural, simple, and faithful narration of facts that I have seen in any history of that period. It preserves the memory of many men and many facts of which I was wholly ignorant until I heard that book read to me ; particularly the conduct and character of General Peter Muhlenburg, of Pennsylvania, who in the collisions and conflicts of party spirit has not had justice done him in this country. As I was absent in Europe a great part of the time which your Journal embraces, I was necessarily uninformed of many particulars which your work has cleared up. Posterity will be under great obligations to you for this labor, and every man of the present age who can afford to purchase it, ought to have it. I am, Sir, your obliged humble servant,



[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


It is through your earnest solicitations, my dear friends, that I commit to public inspection the crude fragments recorded in my Military Journal, kept during the American Revolutionary War. The subordinate station which I sustained did not permit access to the great source from which all important events derived their origin; nor was I made acquainted with the views and motives of action. The transactions and occurrences which I shall relate, though of minor import and penned for temporary amusement, are nevertheless of a nature too deeply interesting to be consigned to oblivion. No circumstance pertaining to our country's emancipation, but should be embalmed in the

memory of our children, and transmitted to the latest posterity, as among the most interesting transactions recorded in the annals of man.

When we contemplate the vastly extended consequences of our revolution, it will be conceded that every incident respecting its rise and progress, and the renowned patriots and heroes by whom it was achieved, is well worthy of perpetual remembrance. With these are associated the primary principles of the rights of man,

[ocr errors]

triot, spurn

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

which so successfully prevailed at the period of our country's infancy, Those principles, which are the great spring of action in the bosom of the honest


power and paralyze the hearts of tyrants. The contents of these sheets refer more to details of military manoeuvres and the internal police of camps, than to projects and events which decide the fate of nations ; they may, however, afford amusement to the inquisitive mind, and to the rising generation, precepts not altogether destitute of importance and useful instruction. They will disclose some interesting particulars, not generally known, and may serve to augment the stock of information developing the fatal policy of the British government, as displayed on the theatre of her American colonies, This production may moreover subserve the purpose of an epitome of the history of the revolutionary contest, and abridge in some measure the labor of the youthful mind in the study of the more elaborate and technical histories of that évur memorable epoch. With this view Į have prefixed a short sketch of interesting transactions prior to the actual commencement of hostilities. “ History," says a late elegant writer, “presents no struggle for

, liberty, which has in it more of the moral sublime, than that of the American revolution. It has been of late years too much forgotten in the sharp contentions of party, and he who endeavors to withdraw the public mind from these debasing conflicts, and to fix it on the grandeur of that epoch, which, magnificent in itself, begins now to wear the solemn livery of antiquity, as it is viewed through the deepening twilight of al

[ocr errors]


most half a century, certainly performs a meritorious service, and can scarcely need a justification."* It may

be deemed reproachful to our country, that half a century has elapsed since the American colonies were emancipated from British thraldom, and that we are yet unfurnished with proper biographical memoirs of the renowned patriots and heroes whose unparalleled efforts, under Providence, achieved the inestimable blessings of liberty and freedom. No characters, assuredly, are more worthy to excite the curiosity and gratitude of posterity, than those who contributed so largely to the establishment of our invaluable civil and religious privileges under a republican constitution. The immortal chieftain, indeed, and his illustrious compeer, General Greene, can receive no additional memorials from any labors in my power to bestow. I might incur the imputation of arrogance were I to imagine myself competent to the duty of portraying in a just light the characters of those whose revered names are introduced into the Appendix of this work. I can only claim the merit of having exerted my best efforts

procure documents and assistance, and to illustrate their qualities under the guidance of the legitimate principles of impartiality and justice. Should posterity inquire why their ancestors, destitute of military education or experience, abandoned their peaceful abodes to encounter the perils of uncertain warfare, let them be told it was not to execute the mandates of a tyrant in subjugating their fellow men, but it was in defence of our most precious rights and privileges; it


* Silliman's Tour from Hartford to Quebec, 1820.

« PreviousContinue »