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TO MRS. EDWARDS.
MY DEAR AUNT,
I fear, madam, you give yourself needless anxiety about the situation of public affairs. It has been always held a maxim that our island and seaport towns were at the discretion of the tyrant of Great Britain. Reasons for the retreat from Long Island are well known. The evacuation of New-York was a necessary consequence. The manner of conducting these made present advantages but trifling to the enemy. The loss to us is of still less importance; and, indeed, some happy consequences resulting from the manoeuvres appear to me worthy of notice.
We have hitherto opposed them with less than half their number, and exposed to all their advantages of shipping. Our force is now more united, theirs more divided. Our present situation renders their navy of less service to them, and less formidable to us;--a circumstance of vast importance, and to which I attribute all that has heretofore appeared in their favour. Add to these, besides confirming our internal union, the effect that every appearance of success on the part of the enemy has upon our leading men. It arouses them from the lethargy which began to prevail; convinces them that their measures are unequal to their grand designs; that the present is the important moment, and that every nerve must now be exerted.
This is not altogether fanciful. It has been actually the case. More effectual measures than were ever before thought of are now taking for levying a new army. A committee of Congress are on the spot with us to know all our wants, and report them properly, that they may be speedily provided for. I do not intend by this, my dear aunt, to deceive you into an opinion that every thing is already entirely secure; that we are now actually relieved from every degree of danger; but to remove your apprehensions concerning the important events which depend on our military exertions. I hope, madam, you will continue, with your usual philosophy and resolution, prepared for the uncertain events of war, not anticipating improbable calamities.
Various have been the reports concerning the barbarities committed by the Hessians, most of them incredible and false. They are fonder of plunder than blood, and are more the engines than the authors of cruelty. But their behaviour has been in some instances savage, and might excuse a fear, if reckoned among usual calamities; but these should be viewed on a larger scale than that of common complaisance. It should be remembered we are engaged in a civil war, and effecting the most important revolution that ever took place. How little of the horrors of either have we known! Fire or the sword have scarce left a trace among us. We may be truly called a favoured people.
I have been not so engaged as common for a short time past, and have liberty of remaining, for three or four days, about two miles from camp, from whence I now write you, a little more at leisure; but I am now within drumcall.
- Aaron Burr
- Project Gutenberg's Memoirs of Aaron Burr, Volume 1., by Matthew L. Davis, 1836