History From America's Most Famous Valleys
A MILITARY JOURNAL
During the American Revolutionary War,
From 1775 to 1783.
Describing Interesting Events and Transactions of this period;
with numerous Historical Fact and Anecdotes
From the Original Manuscript
By James Thacher, M. D.
Second Edition, Revised and Corrected.
Boston, Published by Cottons & Barnard, 1827.
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, 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 patriot, spurn the 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 ever memorable epoch. With this view I 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 rt is viewed through the deepening twilight of almost 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 to 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;
* Silliman's Tour from Hartford to Quebec, 1820.
was a display of that genuine patriotism and true glory which it is ever most honourable to venerate and cherish. While their own hearts glow with patriotic fervor, let them reflect, that true glory consists in the love of peace and the culture of benevolence and good will to men. Let their souls hold in detestation every species of warfare, save that which may secure and defend the invaluable heritage which their fathers have bequeathed them, and for which their memories should be embalmed with the incense of gratitude.
N. B. Should the reader conceive that in detailing the ravages and aggressions of the British army, I have indulged in language of asperity, inconsistent with that urbanity and good fellowship which it is desirable should be cultivated between the two nations at the present day, it may be observed that this is but a feeble specimen of the belligerent language employed by writers at that period, when the wrathful passions were reciprpcally excited and continually aggravated.
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