General Lee was very angry at the charges which Washington had made against him, and demanded that he should be tried by court-martial.
His wish was granted. He was tried, and found guilty of every charge made against him, and in consequence was suspended from the army for one year.
But Charles Lee never went back into the American army. Perhaps he had enough of it. In any event, it had had enough of him; and seven years afterwards, when he died of a fever, his ambition to stand in Washington's shoes died with him. While he lived on his Virginia farm, he was as impetuous and eccentric as when he had been in the army, and he must have been a very unpleasant neighbor. In fact, the people there thought he was crazy. This opinion was not changed when his will was read, for in that document he said,--
"I desire most earnestly that I may not be buried in any church or churchyard, or within a mile of any Presbyterian or Anabaptist meeting house; for since I have resided in this country I have kept so much bad company when living, that I do not choose to continue it when dead."
A FAMOUS FIGHT BETWEEN AN ENGLISH AND A FRENCH FRIGATE
By Rev. W. H. Fitchett, LL. D.
One of the most famous frigate fights in British history is that between the _Arethusa_ and _La Belle Poule_, fought off Brest on June 17, 1778. Who is not familiar with the name and fame of "the saucy _Arethusa_"? Yet there is a curious absence of detail as to the fight. The combat, indeed, owes its enduring fame to two somewhat irrelevant circumstances--first, that it was fought when France and England were not actually at war, but were trembling on the verge of it. The sound of the _Arethusa's_ guns, indeed, was the signal of war between the two nations. The other fact is that an ingenious rhymester--scarcely a poet--crystallised the fight into a set of verses in which there is something of the true smack of the sea, and an echo, if not of the cannon's roar, yet of the rough-voiced mirth of the forecastle; and the sea-fight lies embalmed, so to speak, and made immortal in the sea-song. The _Arethusa_ was a stumpy little frigate, scanty in crew, light in guns, attached to the fleet of Admiral Keppel, then cruising off Brest. Keppel had as perplexed and delicate a charge as was ever entrusted to a British admiral. Great Britain was at war with her American colonies, and there was every sign that France intended to add herself to the fight. No fewer than thirty-two sail of the line and twelve frigates were gathered in Brest roads, and another fleet of almost equal strength in Toulon. Spain, too, was slowly collecting a mighty armament. What would happen to England if the Toulon and Brest fleets united, were joined by a third fleet from Spain, and the mighty array of ships thus collected swept up the British Channel?
On June 13, 1778, Keppel, with twenty-one ships of the line and three frigates, was despatched to keep watch over the Brest fleet, War had not been proclaimed, but Keppel was to prevent a junction of the Brest and Toulon fleets, by persuasion if he could, but by gunpowder in the last resort.
Keppel's force was much inferior to that of the Brest fleet, and as soon as the topsails of the British ships were visible from the French coast, two French frigates, the _Licorne_ and _La Belle Poule_, with two lighter craft, bore down upon them to reconnoitre.
But Keppel could not afford to let the French admiral know his exact force, and signalled to his own outlying ships to bring the French frigates under his lee.
At nine o'clock at night the _Licorne_ was overtaken by the _Milford_, and with some rough sailorly persuasion, and a hint of broadsides, her head was turned towards the British fleet. The next morning, in the grey dawn, the Frenchman, having meditated on affairs during the night, made a wild dash for freedom. The _America_, an English 64--double, that is, the _Licorne's_ size--overtook her, and fired a shot across her bow to bring her to, Longford, the captain of the _America_, stood on the gunwale of his own ship politely urging the captain of the _Licorne_ to return with him. With a burst of Celtic passion the French captain fired his whole broadside into the big Englishman, and then instantly hauled down his flag so as to escape any answering broadside!
Meanwhile the _Arethusa_ was in eager pursuit of the _Belle Poule_; a fox-terrier chasing a mastiff! The _Belle Poule_ was a splendid ship, with heavy metal, and a crew more than twice as numerous as that of the tiny _Arethusa_. But Marshall, its captain, was a singularly gallant sailor, and not the man to count odds. The song tells the story of the fight in an amusing fashion:--
"Come all ye jolly sailors Whose hearts are cast in honour's mould, While England's glory I unfold.
Huzza to the _Arethusa_!
She is a frigate tight and brave As ever stemmed the dashing wave; Her men are staunch To their fav'rite launch, And when the foe shall meet our fire, Sooner than strike we'll all expire On board the _Arethusa_.
"On deck five hundred men did dance, The stoutest they could find in France; We, with two hundred, did advance On board the _Arethusa_.
Our captain hailed the Frenchman, 'Ho!'
The Frenchman then cried out, 'Hallo!'
'Bear down, d'ye see, To our Admiral's lee.'
'No, no,' says the Frenchman, 'that can't be.'
'Then I must lug you along with me,'
Says the saucy _Arethusa_!"
As a matter of fact Marshall hung doggedly on the Frenchman's quarter for two long hours, fighting a ship twice as big as his own. The _Belle Poule_ was eager to escape; Marshall was resolute that it should not escape, and, try as he might, the Frenchman, during that fierce two hours' wrestle, failed to shake off his tiny but dogged antagonist. The _Arethusa's_ masts were shot away, its jib-boom hung a tangled wreck over its bows, its bulwarks were shattered, half its guns were dismounted, and nearly every third man in its crew struck down. But still it hung, with quenchless and obstinate courage, on the _Belle Poule's_ quarter, and by its perfect seamanship and the quickness and the deadly precision with which its lighter guns worked, reduced its towering foe to a condition of wreck almost as complete as its own. The terrier, in fact, was proving too much for the mastiff.
Suddenly the wind fell. With topmasts hanging over the side, and canvas torn to ribbons, the _Arethusa_ lay shattered and moveless on the sea. The shot-torn but loftier sails of the _Belle Poule_, however, yet held wind enough to drift her out of the reach of the _Arethusa's_ fire. Both ships were close under the French cliffs; but the _Belle Poule_, like a broken-winged bird, struggled into a tiny cove in the rocks, and nothing remained for the _Arethusa_ but to cut away her wreckage, hoist what sail she could, and drag herself sullenly back under jury-masts to the British fleet. But the story of that two hours' heroic fight maintained against such odds sent a thrill of grim exultation through Great Britain. Menaced by the combination of so many mighty states, while her sea-dogs were of this fighting temper, what had Great Britain to fear? In the streets of many a British seaport, and in many a British forecastle, the story of how the _Arethusa_ fought was sung in deep-throated chorus:
"The fight was off the Frenchman's land; We forced them back upon their strand; For we fought till not a stick would stand Of the gallant _Arethuml!_"
THE TRICK OF AN INDIAN SPY
By Arthur Quiller-Couch
It was in 1779, when America was struggling with England for her independence, and a division of the English redcoats were encamped on the banks of the Potomac. So admirably fortified was their position by river and steep woods, that no ordinary text-book of warfare would admit the possibility of surprising it. But Washington and his men did not conduct their campaigns by the book. "If you fight with art," said that general once to his soldiery, "you are sure to be defeated. Acquire discipline enough for retreat and the uniformity of combined attack, and your country will prove the best of engineers."
In fact, it was with a guerilla warfare, and little else, that the British had to contend. The Americans had enrolled whole tribes of Indians in their ranks and made full use of the Indian habits of warfare. The braves would steal like snakes about the pathless forests, and dashing unexpectedly on the outposted redcoats, kill a handful in one fierce charge, and then retreat pell-mell back into their shelter, whither to follow them was to court certain death.
The injuries thus inflicted were not overwhelming, but they were teasing for all that. Day by day the waste went on--loss of sentinels, of stragglers, sometimes of whole detachments, and all this was more galling from the impossibility of revenge. In order to limit the depredations it was the custom of the British commanders to throw forward their outposts to a great distance from the main body, to station sentinels far into the woods, and cover the main body with a constant guard.
One regiment was suffering from little less than a panic. Perpetually and day after day sentinels had been missing. Worse than this, they had been surprised, apparently, and carried off without giving any alarm or having time to utter a sound. It would happen that a sentinel went forward to his post with finger upon his trigger, while his comrades searched the woods around and found them empty.
When the relief came, the man would just be missing. That was all.
There was never a trace left to show the manner in which he had been conveyed away: only, now and then, a few drops of blood splashed on the leaves where he had been standing.
The men grew more and more uneasy. Most suspected treachery. It was unreasonable, they argued, to believe that man after man could be surprised without having time even to fire his musket. Others talked of magic, and grew gloomy with strange suspicions of the Indian medicinemen. At any rate, here was a mystery. Time would clear it up, no doubt; but meanwhile the sentry despatched to his post felt like a man marked out for death. It was worse. Many men who would have marched with firm step to death in any familiar shape, would go with pale cheeks and bowed knees to this fate of which nothing was known except that nothing was left of the victim.
Matters at length grew intolerable. One morning, the sentinels having been set as usual overnight, the guard went as soon as dawn began to break to relieve a post that extended far into the woods.
The sentinel was gone! They searched about, found his footprints here and there on the trodden leaves, but no blood--no trace of struggle, no marks of surrounding enemies. It was the old story, however, and they had almost given up the problem by this time.
They left another man at the post, and went their way back, wishing him better luck.
"No need to be afraid," he called after them, "I will not desert."
They looked back. He was standing with his musket ready to fly up to his shoulder at the slightest sound, his eyes searching the glades before him. There was nothing faint about Tom, they determined, and returned to the guard-house.
The sentinels were replaced every four hours, and at the regular time the guard again marched to relieve the post. The man was gone!
They rubbed their eyes, and searched again. But this one had disappeared as mysteriously as his fellows. Again there was no single trace.
But it was all the more necessary that the post should not remain unguarded. They were forced to leave a third man and return, promising him that the colonel should be told of his danger as soon as they got back.
It was panic indeed that filled the regiment when they returned to the guard-house and told the news. The colonel was informed at once. He promised to go in person to the spot when the man was relieved, and search the woods round about. This gave them some confidence, but they went nevertheless with the gloomiest forebodings as to their comrade's fate. As they drew near the spot they advanced at a run. Their fears were justified. The post was vacant--the man gone without a sound.
In the blank astonishment that followed, the colonel hesitated.
Should he station a whole company at the post? This would doubtless prevent further loss; but then it was little likely to explain the mystery; for the hands that had carried off three sentinels, would, it was reasonable to believe, make no attempt to spirit away a whole company of men. And for future action as well as to put an end to the superstitious terror of the soldiery, the vital necessity was to clear up the mystery. He had no belief in the theory that these men deserted. He knew them too well. He prided himself mat he was thoroughly acquainted with his own regiment, and had well-grounded reasons for pride in his men. For this reason he was the more chary of exposing a fourth brave man where three had already been lost.
However, it had to be done. The poor fellow whose turn it was to take the post, though a soldier of proved courage and even recklessness in action, positively shook from head to foot.
"I must do my duty," he said to the colonel. "I know that well enough; but for all that I should like to lose my life with a bit of credit."
There was no higher bravery than facing an indefinite terror such as this, as the colonel was at pains to point out, but he added--
"I will leave no man here against his will."
Immediately a soldier stepped out of the ranks.
"Give me the post," he said quietly.