Page images

moreover, that this congress will provide for Hook on the right, the East River being in every such person fifty acres of unappropri- their rear. General Sullivan, with a strong ated lands in some of these states, to be held force, was encamped within these works at by him and his heirs as absolute property.” Brooklyn. From the east side of the nar

The numbers which were prepared to rows runs a ridge of hills covered with thick oppose the British, when they should disem- wood, about five or six miles in length, bark, made them for some time cautious of which terminates near Jamaica. There were proceeding to their projected land opera- three passes through these hills, one near tions; but the superiority of their navy en- the narrows, a second on the Flatbush road, abled them to go by water whithersoever and a third on the Bedford road, and they they pleased.

are all defensible. These were the only On the 12th of July, a British forty-gun roads which could be passed from the south ship, with some smaller vessels, sailed up the side of the hills to the American lines, exNorth River, without receiving any damage cept a road which led round the easterly of consequence, though fired upon from the end of the hills to Jamaica. The Americans batteries of New-York, Paule's-Hook, Red- had eight hundred men on each of these Bank, and Governor's-Island. An attempt roads, and colonel Miles was placed with his was made, not long after, with two fire- battalion of riflemen, to guard the road from ships, to destroy the British vessels in the the south of the hills to Jamaica, and to North River, but without effecting anything watch the motions of the British. more than the burning of a tender. They General de Heister, with his Hessians, were also attacked with row-galleys, but to took post at Flatbush in the evening of the little purpose. After some time, the Phenix twenty-sixth of August. In the following and Rose men-of-war came down the river, night the greater part of the British army, and joined the fileet. Every effort of the commanded by general Clinton, marched to Americans from their batteries on land, as gain the road leading round the easterly end well as their exertions on the water, proved of the hills to Jamaica, and to turn the left ineffectual. The British ships passed with of the Americans. He arrived about two less loss than was generally expected; but hours before day within half a mile of this nevertheless the damage they received was road. One of his parties fell in with a such as deterred them from frequently re- patrol of American officers, and took them peating the experiment. In two or three all prisoners, which prevented the early instances they ascended the North River, transmission of intelligence. Upon the first and in one or two the East River, but those appearance of day, general Clinton advancwhich sailed up the former speedily returned, and took possession of the heights over ed, and by their return a free communica- which the road passed. General Grant, tion was opened through the upper part of with the left wing, advanced along the coast the state.

by the west road, near the narrows;

but this The American army in and near New- was intended chiefly as a feint. York amounted to seventeen thousand two The guard which was stationed at this hundred and twenty-five men. These were road fled without making any resistance. A mostly new troops, and were divided in few of them were afterwards rallied by lord many small and unconnected posts, some of Stirling, who advanced with fifteen hundred which were fifteen miles removed from men, and took possession of a hill about two others. The British force about New-York miles from the American camp, and in front was increasing by frequent successive ar- of general Grant. rivals from Halifax, South Carolina, Florida, Ăn attack was made very early in the the West Indies, and Europe. But so many morning of the twenty-seventh of August, unforeseen delays had taken place, that the by the Hessians from Flatbush, under genemonth of August was far advanced before ra) de Heister, and by general Grant on the they were in a condition to open the cam- coast, and was well-supported for a considepaign.

rable time by both sides. The Americans AMERICANS DEFEATED AT LONG- who opposed general de Heister were first ISLAND.

informed of the approach of general Clinton, WHEN all things were ready, the British who had come round on their left. They commanders resolved to make their first at- immediately began to retreat to their camp, tempt upon Long-Island. This was pre- but were intercepted by the right wing ferred to New-York, as it abounded with under general Clinton, who got into the those supplies which their forces required. rear of their left, and attacked them with

The British landed, without opposition, his light infantry and dragoons while returnbetween two small towns, Utrecht and ing to their lines. They were driven back Gravesend. The American works protect- till they were met by the Hessians. They el a small peninsula, having Wallabout were thus alternately chased and intercept Bay to the left, and stretching over to Red ed, between general de Heister and general Clinton. Some of their regiments never-led to the city of New-York over East River, theless found their way to the camp. The more than a mile wide, in less than thirteen Americans under lord Stirling, consisting hours, and without the knowledge of the of colonel Miles's two battalions, colonel British, though not six hundred yards distant. Atlee's, colonel Smallwood's, and colonel Providence in a remarkable manner favored Hatche's regiments, who were engaged with the retreating army. For some time after general Grant, fought with great resolution the Americans began to cross, the state of for about six hours. They were uninformed the tide and a strong north-east wind made of the ¡novements made by general Clinton, it impossible for them to make use of their till some of the troops under his command sail-boats, and their whole number of rowhad traversed the whole extent of country boats was insufficient for completing the in their rear. Their retreat was this inter- business in the course of the night. But cepted; but several, notwithstanding, broke about eleven o'clock the wind died away, through, and got into the woods; many and soon after sprung up at south-east, and threw themselves into the marsh, some blew fresh, which rendered the sail-boats of were drowned, and others perished in the use, and at the same time made the passage mud, but a considerable number escaped by from the island to the city, direct, easy, and this way to their lines.

expeditious. Towards morning an extreme The king's troops displayed great valor thick fog came up, which hovered over Longthroughout the whole day. The variety of Island, and by concealing the Americans, the ground occasioned a succession of small enabled them to complete their retreat withengagements, pursuits and slaughter, which out interruption, though the day had begun lasted for many hours. British discipline in to dawn some time before it was finished. every instance triumphed over the native By a mistake in the transmission of orders, valor of raw troops, who had never been in the American lines were evacuated for about action, and whose officers were unacquaint- three quarters of an hour before the last ed with the stratagems of war.

embarkation took place; but the British, In the time of the engagement, and sub-though so near, that their working parties sequent to it, general Washington drew over could be distinctly heard, being enveloped to Long-Island the greatest part of his army. in the fog, knew nothing of the matter. The After he had collected his principal force lines were repossessed and held till six there, it was his wish and hope that Sir o'clock in the morning, when everything William Howe would attempt to storm the except some heavy cannon was removed. works on the island. These, though in- General Mifflin, who commanded the rearsufficient to stand a regular siege, were guard, left the lines, and under the cover of strong enough to resist a coup-de-main. The the fog got off safe. In about half an hour remembrance of Bunker's Hill

, and a desire the fog cleared away, and the British enterto spare his men, restrained the British ed the works which had been just relinquishgeneral from making an assault. On the ed. Had the wind not shifted, the half of contrary, he made demonstrations of pro- the American army could not have crossed, ceeding by siege, and broke ground within and even as it was, if the fog had not conthree hundred yards to the left at Putnam's cealed their rear, it must have been disredoubt. Though general Washington wish- covered, and could hardly have escaped. ed for an assault, yet being certain that his General Sullivan, who was taken prisoner works would be untenable when the British on Long-Island, was immediately sent on batteries should be fully opened, on the thir- parole, with the following verbal message tieth of August he called a council of war, from lord Howe to congress, “ That though to consult on the measures proper to be he could not at present treat with them in taken. It was then determined that the ob- that character, yet he was very desirous of jects in view were in no degree proportion- having a conference with some of the memed to the dangers to which, by a continuance bers, whom he would consider as private on the island, they would be exposed. Con- gentlemen—that he, with his brother the formably to this opinion, dispositions were general, had full power to compromise the made for an immediate retreat. This com- dispute between Great Britain and America, menced soon after it was dark from two upon terms advantageous to both—that he points, the upper and lower ferries on East wished a compact might be settled at a time River. General M'Dougal regulated the em- when no decisive blow was struck, and barkation at one, and colonel Knox at the neither party could say it was compelled to other. The intention of evacuating the enter into such agreement—that were they island had been so prudently concealed from disposed to treat, many things which they the Americans, that they knew not whither had not yet asked, might and ought to be they were going, but supposed to attack the granted; and that if upon conference they enemy. The field artillery, tents, baggage, found any probable ground of accommodaand about nine thousand men, were convey-tion, the authority of congress would be af. terwards acknowledged, to render the treaty gress, trusting to the good sense of their complete.” Three days after this message countrymen, ordered the whole to be printwas received, general Sullivan was requested for their information. All the states ed to inform lord Howe, “ That congress be- would have then rejoiced at less beneficial ing the representatives of the free and inde- terms than they obtained about seven years pendent states of America, they cannot with after. But Great Britain counted on the propriety send any of their members to con- certainty of their absolute conquest, or unter with his lordship in their private char-conditional submission. Her offers thereacters; but that, ever desirous of establish- fore comported so little with the feelings of ing peace on reasonable terms, they will America, that they neither caused demur nor send a committee of their body, to know disunion among the new-formed states. whether he has any authority to treat with The unsuccessful termination of the action persons authorized by congress for that pur- on the 27th led to consequences more seripose, on behalf of America, and what that ously alarming to the Americans than the authority is; and to hear such propositions loss of their men. The army was univeras he shall think fit to make respecting the sally dispirited. The militia ran off by comsame." They elected Dr. Franklin, John panies. Their example infected the regular Adams, and Edward Rutledge, their com- regiments. The loose footing on which the mittee for this purpose. In a few days they militia came to camp, made it hazardous to met lord Howe on Staten Island, and were exercise over them that discipline, without received with great politeness. On their re- which an army is a mob. To restrain one turn they made a report of their confer- part of an army while another claimed and ence, which they summed up by saying, “ It exercised the right of doing as they pleased, did not appear to your committee that his was no less impracticable than absurd. lordship's commission contained any other

NEW-YORK TAKEN. authority than that expressed in the act of A COUNCIL of war recommended to act on parliament; namely, that of granting par- the defensive, and not to risk the army for dons, with such exceptions as the commis- the sake of New-York. To retreat, subjectsioners shall think proper to make, and of ed the commander-in-chief to reflections declaring America, or any part of it, to be painful to bear, and yet impolitic to refute: in the king's peace on submission : for as to to stand his ground, an by suffering himthe power of inquiring into the state of self to be surrounded, to hazard the fate of America, which his lordship mentioned to America on one decisive engagement, was us and of conferring and consulting with contrary to every rational plan of defending any persons the commissioners might think the wide-extended states committed to his proper, and representing the result of such care. A middle line between abandoning conversation to the ministry, who, provided and defending was therefore for a short time the colonies would subject themselves, might adopted. The public stores were moved to ai-r all, or might not, at their pleasure, Dobb's Ferry, abont 26 miles from Newmake any alterations in the former instruc-York; 12,000 men were ordered to the tions to governors, or propose in parliament northern extremity of New-York Island, and any amendment of the acts complained of; 4500 to remain for the defence of the city, we apprehend any expectation from the while the remainder occupied the intermeeffect of such a power would have been too diate space, with orders either to support uncertain and precarious to be relied on by the city or Kingsbridge, as exigencies might America, had she still continued in her state require. Before the British landed, it was of dependence.” Lord Howe had ended the impossible to tell what place would be first conference on his part, by expressing his re-attacked: this made it necessary to erect gard for America, and the extreme pain he works for the defence of a variety of places would suffer in being obliged to distress as well as of New-York. Though everythose whom he so much regarded. Dr. thing was abandoned when the crisis came Franklin thanked him for his regards, and that either the city must be relinquished, or assured him," that the Americans would the army risked for its defence, yet from the show their gratitude, by endeavoring to less-delays occasioned by the redoubts and other en as much as possible all pain he might works which had been erected on the idea feel on their account, by exerting their ut- of making the defence of the states a war most abilities in taking good care of them- of posts, a whole campaign was lost to the selves."

British, and saved to the Americans. The The committee in every respect maintain-year began with hopes that Great Britain ed the dignity of congress. Their conduct would recede from her demands, and thereand sentiments were such as became their fore every plan of defence was on a tempocharacter. The friends to independence re- rary system. The declaration of indepenjoiced that nothing resulted from this inter-dence, which the violence of Great Britain view that might disunite the people. Con- forced the colonies to adopt in July, though

[ocr errors]

neither foreseen nor intended at the com- around his person, by indirect violence com-
mencement of the year, pointed out the ne- pelled him to retire.
cessity of organizing an army on new terins, The royal army, after a halt of six days
correspondent to the enlarged objects for at Frog's Neck, advanced on the 18th of
which they had resolved to contend. Con- October near to New-Rochelle. After three
gress accordingly, on the 16th of September, days, general Howe moved the right and
determined to raise 88 battalions, to serve centre of his army two miles to the north-
during the war. Under these circumstances, ward of New-Rochelle, on the road to the
to wear away the campaign with as little White Plains, and there he received a large
misfortune as possible, and thereby to gain reinforcement.
time for raising a permanent army aga nst General Washington, while retreating
the next year, was to the Americans a mat- from New-York Island, was careful to make
ter of the last importance. Though the a front towards the British, from East-Ches-
commander-in-chief abandoned those works, ter almost to White Plains, in order to se-
which had engrossed much time and atten- cure the march of those who were behind,
tion, yet the advantage resulting from the and to defend the removal of the sick, the
delays they occasioned, far overbalanced the cannon, and stores of his army. In this
expense incurred by their erection. manner his troops made a line of small de-

General Howe having prepared every-tached and intrenched camps on the several
thing for a descent on New-York Island, heights and strong grounds, from Valentine's
began, on September 15, to land his men Hill on the right, to the vicinity of the White
under cover of ships of war, between Kepp's Plains on the left.
Bay and Turtle Bay. A breastwork had

On the 25th of October the royal army been erected in the vicinity, and a party sta- moved in two columns, and took a position tioned in it to oppose the British, in case of with the Brunx in front, upon which the their attempting to land; but on the first Americans assembled their main force at appearance of danger, they ran off in con- White Plains, behind intrenchments. А fusion. The commander-in-chief came up, general action was hourly expected, and a and in vain attempted to rally them. Though considerable one took place, in which sevethe British in sight did not exceed sixty, he ral hundreds fell. The Americans were could not, either by example, entreaty, or commanded by general M'Dougal, and the authority, prevail on a superior force to British by general Leslie. While they were stand their ground, and face that inconsider- engaged the American baggage was moved able number. Such dastardly conduct raised off, in full view of the British army. Soon a tempest in the usually tranquil mind of after this, general Washington changed his general Washington. Having embarked in front, his left wing stood fast, and his right the American cause from the purest princi- fell back to some hills. In this position, ples, he viewed with infinite concern this which was an admirable one in a military shameful behavior, as threatening ruin to point of view, he both desired and expected his country. He recollected the many de- an action; but general Howe declined it, clarations of congress, of the army, and of and drew off his forces towards Dobb's Ferthe inhabitants, preferring liberty to life, and ry. The Americans afterwards retired to de to dishonor, and contrasted them with North-Castle. their present scandalous flight. Extensive General Washington, with part of his confiscations and numerous attainders pre- army, crossed the North River, and took post sented themselves in full view to his agita- in the neighborhood of Fort Lee. A force ted mind. He saw, in imagination, new- of about 7500 men was left at North Castle, formed states, with the means of defence in under general Lee. their hands, and the glorious prospects of The Americans having retired, on the liberty before them, levelled to the dust, and 12th of November Sir William Howe detersuch constitutions imposed on them as were mined to improve the opportunity of their like.y to crush the vigor of the human mind, absence, for the reduction of Fort Washingwhile the unsuccessful issue of the present ton. This, the only post the Americans struggle would, for ages to come, deter pos- then held on New-York Island, was under terity from the bold design of asserting their the command of colonel Magaw. The royal rights. Impressed with these ideas, he army made four attacks upon it. The first, hazarded his person for some considerable on the north side, was led on by general time in the rear of his own men and in front Kniphausen; the second, on the east, by of the enemy, with his horse's head towards general Matthews, supported by lord Cornthe latter, as if in expectation that by an wallis. The third was under the direction honorable death he might escape the infamy of lieutenant-colonel Sterling, and the fourth he dreaded from the dastardly conduct of was commanded by lord Percy. The troops troops on whom he could place no depend- under Kniphausen, when advancing to the ence. His aids and the confidential friends fort, had to pass through a thick wood, which

was nccupied by colonel Rawling's regiment committed, and of all forfeitures and penalof riflemen, and suffered very much from ties for the same.” Many who had been in their well-directed fire. During this attack, office, and taken an active part in support of a body of the British light infantry advanced the new government, accepted of these ofagainst a party of the Americans, who were fers, and made their peace by submission. annoying them from behind rocks and trees, Some who had been the most vehement in and obliged them to disperse. Lord Percy favor of independence, veered round to the carried an advance work on his side, and strongest side. Men of fortune generally lieutenant-colonel Sterling forced his way gave way; the few who stood firm, were up a steep height, and took 170 prisoners. mostly to be found in the middle ranks of Their out-works being carried, the Ameri- the people. cans left their lines, and crowded into the When it was expected that the conquerors fort. Colonel Rahl, who led the left wing would retire to winter-quarters, they comof Kniphausen's attack, pushed forward, and menced a new plan of operations, more lodged his column within a hundred yards alarming than all their previous conquests. of the fort, and was there soon joined by the The reduction of Fort Washington, the left column. The garrison surrendered on evacuation of Fort Lee, and the diminution terms of capitulation, by which the men of the American army, by the departure of were to be considered as prisoners of war, those whose time of service had expired, enand the officers to keep their baggage and couraged the British, notwithstanding the side-arms. The number of prisoners amount- severity of the winter, and the badness of ed to 2700. The loss of the British, inclu- the roads, to pursue the remaining inconsive of killed and wounded, was about 1200. siderable continental force, with the prospect Shortly after Fort Washington had surren- of annihilating it. By this turn of affairs, dered, lord Cornwallis with a considerable the interior country was surprised into conforce passed over to attack Fort Lee, on the fusion, and found an enemy within its bowels, opposite Jersey shore.

without a sufficient army to oppose it. To WASHINGTON RETREATS. retreat was the only expedient left. This The garrison was saved by an immediate having commenced, lord Cornwallis followed, evacuation, but at the expense of their artil- and was close in the rear of general Washlery and stores. General Washington about sington as he retreated successively to Newthis time retreated to Newark. Having ark, to Brunswick, to Princeton, to Trenton, abundant reason, from the posture of affairs, and to the Pennsylvania side of the Delato count on the necessity of a farther retreat, ware. The pursuit was urged with so much he asked colonel Reed=“ Should we retreat rapidity, that the rear of the one army pullto the back parts of Pennsylvania, will the ing down bridges was often within sight and Pennsylvanians support us?" The colonel shot of the van of the other building them up. replied, “If the lower countries are sub- On the day general Washington retreated dued and give up, the back countries will over the Delaware, the British took possesdo the same.” The general replied, “ We sion of Rhode Island without any loss, and must retire to Augusta county in Virginia ; at the same time blocked up commodore numbers will be obliged to repair to us for Hopkins's squadron, and a number of privacafety, and we must try what we can do in teers, at Providencé. carrying on a predatory war, and if over- In this period, when the American army powered, we must cross the Alleghany moun- was relinquishing its general, the people tains."

giving up the cause, some of their leaders While a tide of success was flowing in going over to the enemy, and the British upen general Howe, he and his brother, as commanders succeeding in every enterprise, royal commissioners, issued a proclamation, general Lee was taken prisoner at Baskenin which they commanded "all persons as-ridge, by lieutenant-colonel Harcourt. This sembled in arms against his majesty's gov- caused a depression of spirits among the ernment to disband, and all general or pro- Americans, far exceeding any real injury vincial congresses to desist from their trea- done to their essential interest. He had sonable actings, and to relinquish their been repeatedly ordered to come forward uzurped power.” They also declared, “ that with his division, and join general Washingevery person who, within sixty days, should ton ; but these orders were not obeyed. This appear before the governor, lieutenant-gov- circumstance, and the dangerous crisis of error, or commander-in-chief of any of his public affairs, together with his being alone majesty's colonies, or before the general or at some distance from the troops which he commanding officer of his majesty's forces, commanded, begat suspicions that he chose and claim the benefit of the proclamation, to fall into the hands of the British. Though and testify his obedience to the laws, by sub- these apprehensions were without foundascribing a certain declaration, should obtain tion, they produced the same extensive misa full and free pardon of all treasons by him chief as if they had been realities. The

« PreviousContinue »