Page:A French Volunteer of the War of Independence.djvu/105

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OF THE WAR OF INDEPENDENCE.


batteries which could bring a heavy cross fire to bear upon several parts of the river, and the passage of the river was also barred—like the port of Constantinople in the time of the Greek Emperors—by a chain, every link of which weighed more than four hundredweight. The fortifications were erected under the direction of MM. Duportail and de Gouvion, officers sent from France.

Amongst the causes which brought about the liberty and independence of the United States, perhaps these impregnable fortifications should count for something.

The British could not hope to capture West Point by main force, for their ships could not approach without running the gauntlet—for fully two miles—of a heavy cross fire from the banks and the neighbouring heights. They resolved to try King Philip's "mule laden with gold."[1]


  1. Philip of Macedon said "there was no fortress so impregnable that a mule laden with gold could not enter." The figure is a favourite one with French writers, and has been used by Camille Desmoulins, Châteaubriand, and Heine, ED.