Franklin's Autobiography (Eclectic English Classics)

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 137

arrived at Philadelphia, where the inhabitants
could protect him. This whole transaction gave us Americans the first
suspicion that our exalted ideas of the prowess of British regulars
had not been well founded.

In their first march, too, from their landing till they got beyond the
settlements, they had plundered and stripped the inhabitants, totally
ruining some poor families, besides insulting, abusing, and confining
the people if they remonstrated. This was enough to put us out of
conceit of such defenders, if we had really wanted any. How different
was the conduct of our French friends in 1781, who, during a march
through the most inhabited part of our country from Rhode Island to
Virginia, near seven hundred miles, occasioned not the smallest
complaint for the loss of a pig, a chicken, or even an apple.

Captain Orme, who was one of the general's aids-de-camp, and, being
grievously wounded, was brought off with him and continued with him to
his death, which happened in a few days, told me that he was totally
silent all the first day, and at night only said: "Who would have
thought it?" that he was silent again the following day, saying only
at last: "We shall better know how to deal with them another time,"
and died in a few minutes after.

The secretary's papers, with all the general's orders, instructions,
and correspondence, falling into the enemy's hands, they selected and
translated into French a number of the articles, which they printed,
to prove the hostile intentions of the British court before the
declaration of war. Among these I saw some letters of the general to
the ministry, speaking highly of the great service I had rendered the
army, and recommending me to their notice. David Hume,[173] too, who
was some years after secretary to Lord Hertford when minister in
France, and afterward to General Conway when secretary of state, told
me he had seen, among the papers in that office, letters from Braddock
highly recommending me. But, the expedition having been unfortunate,
my service, it seems, was not thought of much value, for those
recommendations were never of any use to me.

As to rewards from himself, I asked only one, which was that he would
give orders to his officers not to enlist any more of our bought
servants,[174] and that he would discharge such as had been already
enlisted. This he readily granted, and several were accordingly
returned to their masters on my application. Dunbar, when the command
devolved on him, was not so generous. He being at Philadelphia, on his
retreat, or rather flight, I applied to him for

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