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George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, Vol. 8 6 4 Browse Search
Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing) 1 1 Browse Search
George Bancroft, History of the United States from the Discovery of the American Continent, Vol. 4, 15th edition. 1 1 Browse Search
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Harper's Encyclopedia of United States History (ed. Benson Lossing), Lee, Charles 1731- (search)
as misrepresentations and misapprehensions, the Americans had unbounded confidence in Lee, and many were in favor of making him commander-in-chief of the Continental army at the time Washington was appointed. Indeed, he expected the honor, and was disappointed and surprised because he did not receive it. He had been in military training from his boyhood, and represented himself as well versed in the science of war. He was better understood in England. From what I know of him. wrote Sir Joseph Yorke, then British minister at The Hague, he is the worst present which could be made to any army. And so he proved to the Americans. He was selfish in the extreme. He had left the English army because he saw no chance of being provided for at home. Soured against his government, he had sought employment anywhere as a mere military adventurer. He venerated England, and declared it to be wretchedness itself, not being able to herd with the class of men [the English] to which he had been
e patron of philosophy; and the federation of the weaker maritime states presented itself to the world as the protector of equality on the seas. England, on the other hand, had no motive to continue hostilities, but the love of rapine and of conquest; and on the twelfth of January, about a week after the declaration against Spain, the king directed measures to be taken to detach Austria from the House of Bourbon, and recover its alliance for England. The proposition was made through Sir Joseph Yorke, at the Hague, who was to tempt the empress by the hope of some ulterior acquisitions in Italy. The experienced diplomatist promptly hinted to his employers that offers from Prussia, that is, the offer of the restoration of Silesia, would be more effective. A clandestine proposition from England to Austria was itself a treachery to Frederic and a violation of treaties; it became doubly so, when the consequence of success in the negotiation would certainly have been the employment of E
y native country. The American people with ingenuous confidence assumed that Charles Lee,—the son of an English officer, trained up from boyhood for the army,—was, as he represented himself, well versed in the science of war, familiar with active service in America, Portugal, Poland, and Turkey, and altogether a soldier of consummate ability, who had joined their cause from the purest impulses of a generous nature. In England he was better understood. From what I know of him, wrote Sir Joseph Yorke, then British minister at the Hague, he is the worst present which could be made to any army. He left the standard of his king, because he saw no Chap. XLI.} 1775. June 17. chance of being provided for at home, and, as an adventurer, sought employment in any part of the world. Venerating England all the while, and holding it wretchedness itself not to be able to herd with the class of men to which he had been accustomed from his infancy, he was continually craving intimate relations
nd men, exclusive of the Canadians and Indians. The first contribution was made by the king as elector of Hanover; nor did he drive a hard bargain with the British treasury: his predecessor, through Newcastle, took so much for the loan of Hanoverian troops, that no account of the payment could be found; George the Third asked only the reimbursement of all expenses. His agent, Colonel William Faucett, leaving England early in August, stopped at the Hague just long enough to confer with Sir Joseph Yorke on getting further assistance in Holland and Germany, and straightway repaired to Hanover to muster and receive into the service of Great Britain five battalions of electoral infantry. They consisted of two thousand three hundred and fifty men, who were to be employed in the garrisons of Gibraltar and Minorca, and thus to disengage an equal number of British troops for service in America. The recruiting officers of Frederic of Prussia and of other princes environed the frontier with t
een gained; but the dignity, the principles, and the policy of the States General forbade. This is the first attempt of either party to induce Holland to take part in the American war; and its neutrality gave grievous offence in England. Sir Joseph Yorke, at the Hague, was further directed to gain information on the practicability of using the good dispositions of the king's friends upon the continent, and the military force which its princes might be engaged to supply. For England to recruit in Germany was a defiance of the law of the empire; but Yorke reported that recruits might be raised there in any number, and at a tolerably easy rate; and that bodies of troops might be obtained of the princes of Hesse Cassel, Wurtemberg, Saxe Gotha, Darmstadt, and Baden. But for the moment England had in contemplation a larger scheme. Gunning's private and confidential despatch from Moscow was received in London on the first day of September, with elation and delight. That very day Su
hapter 57: Britain Engages foreign troops. November, 1775—February, 1776. had the king employed none but British troops, Chap. LVII.} the war by land against the colonies must have been of short duration. His army was largely recruited from American loyalists; from emigrants driven to America by want, and too recently arrived to be imbued with its principles; from Ireland and the Highlands of Scotland; and from Germany. Treaties were also made for subsidiary troops. When Sir Joseph Yorke, the British ambassador at the Hague, proposed the transfer of a brigade from the service of the Netherlands to that of his sovereign, the young stadtholder wrote directly to his cousin the king of England, to decline what was desired. He received a reply, renewing and urging the request. In 1599 the Low Countries pledged to Queen Elizabeth, as security for a loan, three important fortresses which she garrisoned with her own troops; in 1616 the Dutch discharged the debt, and the garr