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GOLD MEDAL AWARDED TO WASHINGTON FOR THE DELIVERANCE OF BOSTON.
formance of the act. We see him with a handful of ill-disciplined, ill-fed, ill-clad soldiers, after a prudent flight of three weeks before a strong pursuing enemy, crossing a rapid river in the midst of floating ice, and darkness, and driving storm, and smiting a band of mercenary Germans at Trenton, who had been hired out by their avaricious princes to aid the British soldiery in butchering their fellow subjects. Victory followed the blow, and a few days afterward that victory was repeated at Princeton. Again the praises of Washington were upon every lip. The great Frederick of Prussia declared that the achievements of the American leader and his compatriots, between the twenty-fifth of December 1776, and the fourth of January, 1777—a space of ten days-were the most brilliant of any recorded in the annals of military action. A splendid flag, taken from the Hessians at Trenton, composed of two pieces of heavy white damask silk, bearing devices embroidered with gold thread, and the words FOR OUR PRINCE AND COUNTRY, in Latin, exquisitely wrought in needlework, was
presented to Washington. It was afterward hung up in the great hall at Mount Vernon, but only on one occasion, for Washington was careful
never to make even the
most trivial display of mementos of his own valor. This flag was his first trophy of the kind in the war for independence.
And all through the war, prudence, sagacity, skill, energy, and great wisdom, marked the acts of Washington. His last battle was at Yorktown, where another trophy, similar to that at Trenton, was secured. It was the flag of the seventh British regiment, made of heavy twilled silk, six feet in length and five feet four inches in width. The ground was blue; the central stripe of the cross red; the marginal ones white. In the centre was a crown, and beneath it a garter, with the usual inscription in Norman French-Evil be to him who evil thinketh-enclosing a full-blown rose, the floral emblem of England. This flag, with another, was presented to Washington by a resolution of the Congress, passed ten days after the victory, and was hung in the hall at Mount Vernon on the single occasion referred to. It had been sadly tattered during
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HESSIAN FLAG TAKEN AT TRENTON.
the conflict. Until lately it occupied a place near the Hessian flag, in the Museum at Alexandria, where they were deposited by the late George Washington Parke Custis, and
Lonely was the mansion at Mount Vernon without the master during the seven years and more that the war lasted. Yet it was by no means deserted. The only child of Mrs. Washington, John Parke Custis, with his wife and growing family, were there much of the time, for Washington had written to him a few days after his appointment to the command of the army: "At any time, I hope it is unnecessary for me to say, that I am always pleased with your and Nelly's abidance at Mount Vernon, much less upon this occasion, when I think it absolutely necessary for the peace and satisfaction of your mother; a consideration which I have no doubt will have due weight with you both, and require no arguments to enforce." Neighbors and friends also came frequently to cheer the temporary widowhood of the mistress. Lund Washington, the master's relative and friend, was the faithful manager of the estate, and he scrupulously obeyed the injunction of the owner, who said: "Let the hospitality of the
appropriately labeled Alpha and Omega-the first and the last of the trophies won by Washington.
BRITISH FLAG TAKEN AT YORKTOWN.
house, with respect to the poor, be kept up. Let no one go away hungry. If any of this kind of people should be in want of corn, supply their necessities, provided it does not encourage them in idleness."
Nothing of importance, aside from the routine of plantation life, occurred at Mount Vernon after the summer of 1775, until 1781. At the former period, Lord Dunmore and his marauding followers, ascended the Potomac as far as Occoquan Falls, with the intention of making Mrs. Washington a prisoner, and desolating the estates of Gunston Hall and Mount Vernon. The Prince William militia gathered in large numbers to oppose him, and these, aided by a heavy storm, frustrated his lordship's designs, and he sailed down the river, after destroying some mills and other property.
Early in September, 1781, there was great commotion at Mount Vernon, greater than when, a few months before, small British armed vessels had come up the Potomac, plundering and destroying on every hand. One of these, on that occasion, had approached Mount Vernon with fire and sword, and Lund Washington had purchased the safety of the estate by giving the commander refreshments and supplies. For this the master of Mount Vernon rebuked him, saying, "It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard that, in consequence of your non-compliance with their request, they had burned my house and laid my plantation in ruins."
On the 9th of September, 1781, there was an arrival more startling to the dwellers upon the Mount Vernon estate than that of an armed enemy upon the neighboring waters. It was the unexpected arrival of the master himself. The allied French and American armies were then on their march toward
Virginia, to assist Lafayette and his compatriots in driving the invading Cornwallis from that state. Washington came from Baltimore late at night, attended only by Colonel Humphreys (one of his aides) and faithful Billy. They had left the Count de Rochambeau and the Marquis de Chastellux-one at Alexandria, and the other at Georgetown-to follow them in the morning. Very soon the whole household was astir, and the news flew quickly over the estate that the master had arrived. At early dawn the servants came from every cabin to greet him, and many looked sorrowfully upon a face so changed by the storms of successive campaigns, during more than six years that he had been absent.
None came earlier than Bishop, the venerable body-servant of the master in the old French war, who was now too old to go to the camp. He lived near the mansion, the Nestor of the plantations, and was overseer of one of the farms. No doubt he came, as was his custom on great occasions, fully equipped in his regimentals, made after the fashion of George the Second's time, to greet the man he so much loved. Bishop was then almost eighty years of age, with deep furrows upon his cheeks, a few gray locks upon his temples, and his once manly form bent gently by the weight of years, and shrunken by the suns of nearly fourscore summers.
On the morrow, the French noblemen, with their suites, arrived-Rochambeau first, and De Chastellux afterward-and all but the chief made it a day of rest. For him there was no repose. He was not permitted to pass even an hour alone with his wife. Public and private cares were pressing heavily upon him. He was on his way to measure strength with a powerful enemy, and his words of affection were few and hurried. All