Such methods of warfare Washington despised intellectually, and hated morally. He saw that every raid only hardened the people against England, and made her cause more hopeless. The misery caused by these raids angered him, but he would not retaliate in kind, and Wayne bayoneted no English soldiers after they laid down their arms at Stony Point. It was enough for Washington to hold fast to the great objects he had in view, to check Clinton and circumscribe his movements. Steadfastly he did this through the summer and winter of 1779, which proved one of the worst that he had yet endured. Supplies did not come, the army dwindled, and the miseries of Valley Forge were renewed. Again was repeated the old and pitiful story of appeals to Congress and the States, and again the undaunted spirit and strenuous exertions of Washington saved the army and the Revolution from the internal ruin which was his worst enemy. When the new year began, he saw that he was again condemned to a defensive campaign, but this made little difference now, for what he had foreseen in the spring of 1779 became certainty in the autumn. The active war was transferred to the south, where the chapter of disasters was beginning, and Clinton had practically given up everything except New York. The war had taken on the new phase expected by Washington. Weak as he was, he began to detach troops, and prepared to deal with the last desperate effort of England to conquer her revolted colonies from the south.
ARNOLD’S TREASON, AND THE WAR IN THE SOUTH
The spring of 1780 was the beginning of a period of inactivity and disappointment, of diligent effort and frustrated plans. During the months which ensued before the march to the south, Washington passed through a stress of harassing anxiety, which was far worse than anything he had to undergo at any other time. Plans were formed, only to fail. Opportunities arose, only to pass by unfulfilled. The network of hostile conditions bound him hand and foot, and it seemed at times as if he could never break the bonds that held him, or prevent or hold back the moral, social, and political dissolution going on about him. With the aid of France, he meant to strike one decisive blow, and end the struggle. Every moment was of importance, and yet the days and weeks and months slipped by, and he could get nothing done. He could neither gain control of the sea, nor gather sufficient forces of his own, although delay now meant ruin. He saw the British overrun the south, and he could not leave the Hudson. He was obliged to sacrifice the southern States, and yet he could get neither ships nor men to attack New York. The army was starving and mutinous, and he sought relief in vain. The finances were ruined, Congress was helpless, the States seemed stupefied. Treason of the most desperate kind suddenly reared its head, and threatened the very citadel of the Revolution. These were the days of the war least familiar to posterity. They are unmarked in the main by action or fighting, and on this dreary monotony nothing stands out except the black stain of Arnold’s treason. Yet it was the time of all others when Washington had most to bear. It was the time of all others when his dogged persistence and unwavering courage alone seemed to sustain the flickering fortunes of the war.