By Andro Linklater
For nearly 20 years, in the course of the struggle of 1812, James Wilkinson used to be the senior normal within the usa military. Amazingly, he used to be additionally Agent thirteen within the Spanish mystery carrier at a time while Spain's empire ruled North the USA. Wilkinson's audacious profession as a double agent is the entire extra impressive since it used to be an open mystery, circulated usually in newspapers and pamphlets. His saga illuminates simply how fragile and susceptible the younger republic was once: No fewer than our first 4 presidents became a blind eye to his treachery and gambled that the mercurial basic may by no means betray the military itself and use it too overthrow the nascent union—a religion that was once eventually rewarded.
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Additional resources for An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson
For all his bravado in taking command, Wilkinson was only nineteen and had seen no action. The tiny garrison of 450 men faced an enemy 1,000 strong, outlying posts had been cut off, ammunition and food were running low, no reinforcements were available, and the British were said to be close at hand. Understandly, on May 24, Wilkinson wanted to send a last letter, but for reasons apparent only to him, it was addressed to General Greene. “We are now in a sweet situation,” he began bravely, and went on to describe his desperate circumstances with a British attack expected in six hours.
Lee believed that, to make best use of his untrained militia troops, Washington should be conducting a guerrilla campaign rather than trying to confront in open battle a professional army that could bring devastating firepower to bear on its enemy through parade- ground maneuvers. “Entre nous a certain great man is damnably deficient,” Lee told Gates. Washington’s mistaken strategy had left Philadelphia defenseless and the army on the verge of defeat. “Unless something turns up which I do not expect, our cause is lost.
When I look to the consequences of it in the loss of so many brave Officers, I do it with horror,” General William Howe reported to London after his hard-won victory. ” Nor did every American general agree with the commander in chief’s assessment. ” And Congress remained hostile to the threat of political intimidation posed by professional soldiers. “A Standing Army, however necessary it may be at some times, is always dangerous to the Liberties of the People,” Samuel Adams declared. ” Thus from the start of his military career, Wilkinson was caught up in the struggle between supporters of the regulars and the militia.
An Artist in Treason: The Extraordinary Double Life of General James Wilkinson by Andro Linklater