Baroness On The Battlefield

PrintPrintEmailEmail

One day I was visiting the lady who was the wife of General Cornwallis’ aide, and complained bitterly about our lack of wood; whereupon she promised to send me some coal, which I could return to her at my convenience. I was so delighted about this that Major Brown, a member of the commissary, who happened to be present and who had listened to my tale of woe with pity, went away very much touched.

The next day when I looked out of the window I saw four wagons stop in our street, loaded with big tree trunks, each wagon containing about two cords of wood. I went into the room where Pastor Mylius was sitting with the children by the fireplace, where our last log was burning, and said to him, “I have never known envy before, but I am so unhappy now to see how the children are suffering from the cold that I cannot help feeling envious; for someone next door to us is just being delivered four wagons full of wood. How happy I would be to have only one of them!” Hardly had I finished speaking when one of the servants brought me Major Brown’s regard and the message that he was sending this wood to us, and that should we ever be short of wood again, we should let him know immediately. … he had given orders that some trees in the large avenue on the outskirts of the city be chopped….

[On] March 7, I gave birth to a daughter. My husband had wished for a son, but the little one was so pretty that we were reconciled over it not having been a boy. We had intended naming the boy Americus, but the name now had to be changed for the little daughter into America. …

Six weeks later my husband persuaded me to go to a dinner given by General Tryon. This plan had been arranged by them so that during my absence my husband could have the baby inoculated by an English doctor, because the smallpox was raging so in the city. He did this therefore, without my knowledge to save me anxiety, and he would have succeeded in concealing it from me, had his fatherly uneasiness not betrayed him. He came every few moments to see how the baby was and soon was saying, “How pale she is!” or “She must be ill,” so that I finally began to grow anxious and told him he must have a reason to be so uneasy and asked whether he had had her inoculated. Right away I drew back the sleeves and saw two spots on each arm. I must admit that for a moment I was very angry, but I appreciated my husband’s good purpose. The little one became so ill that we feared we might lose her. My poor husband was inconsolable, because he blamed himself for it all, and I had all I could do in sustaining his spirits. But, God be praised, all went well. …

Through the whole winter General Phillips, General Tryon, and General Pattison were our constant friends and guests, and every week we gave a dinner for the gentlemen. That was all we could manage, because everything in the city had grown dreadfully expensive. At the end of the winter General Tryon left for England, and before his departure, without telling me about it beforehand, he sent me magnificent furniture, rugs and curtains, and a silk tapestry that would cover an entire room. I shall never forget the numerous tokens of friendship which I received from almost everyone of this excellent nation, and it will always be a pleasure to me to be able to assist the English, for I know from experience how wonderful it is to be treated so well in a strange country.

At this time began our friendship with General Clinton. … Like all Englishmen, it was difficult at first to make friends with him. His first visit was merely a matter of form, paid to us in his capacity as commander in chief, attended by his whole staff. Since his manner and conversation were pleasant, I told his friend, General Phillips, that I was sorry that he treated us so ceremoniously, and that I would much rather associate with him on more friendly terms. Later on he offered us his country home for the summer, which we gladly accepted. It was magnificent. The location was the most beautiful, there were orchards and meadows, and the [East] River flowed past the house. Everything was at our disposal, including more fruit than we could eat. Our servants ate enormous quantities of peaches, and our horses, which grazed under the fruit trees, ate the fruit right off the trees and spurned to eat that which had fallen to the ground. We had this fallen fruit gathered every evening and fed it to the pigs. It would seem incredible that we fattened six pigs, whose meat was excellent, on this fruit alone, and only the fat was a bit flabby. Peach and apricot trees grow here that are exactly like other fruit, and are never grown on espaliers, their trunks being just as thick as those of ordinary trees. …

General Clinton often came there to visit us, but dressed only in his hunting clothes and accompanied by a single aide and said, “I know you prefer having me visit you as a friend, and as I feel the same, I shall always come to you that way.” The last time he came he brought with him the unfortunate Major André, who became so well known, and who, on the following day, went on the fatal expedition where he was caught by the Americans and later hanged as a spy. It was very sad, because this excellent young man was the victim of his zeal for service and his good heart, which had made him take upon himself a mission which had been assigned to another officer, too old and well known, whose turn it really was, and whose life, therefore, was in greater danger and whom he wanted to save.