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CHAP. VII. commanded by lieutenant general Clinton. A 1776. regiment of Pennsylvanians, under colonel
Hand, who guarded the coast, retired before them to the woody heights commanding a pass leading directly through Flatbush to the works at Brooklyn. Lord Cornwallis was immediately detached to Flatbush with orders to seize the pass, if it should be unoccupied, but not to risk an attack if he found it in the possession of the Americans. The pass being guarded, his lordship took post in the village, and the army extended from the ferry at the Narrows, through Utrecht and Gravesend, to the village of Flatland.
There being now a certainty that an engagement would soon take place, general Washington made still another effort to inspire his
troops with the most determined courage. July 23. “ The enemy,” said he in addressing them,
“ have now landed on Long island, and the hour is fast approaching, on which the honour and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country depends. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are freemen fighting for the blessings of liberty....that slavery will be your portion, and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men. Remember how your courage has been despised and traduced by your cruel invaders; though they have found by dear experience, at Boston,
k General Howe's letter.
Charleston, and other places, what a few brave CHAP. VII. men, contending in their own land, and in the 1776. best of causes, can do against hirelings and mercenaries. Be cool, but determined. Do not fire at a distance, but wait for orders from your officers.” He repeated his injunctions to shoot down any person who should misbehave in action, and his hope “ that none so infamous would be found; but that, on the contrary, each for himself, resolving to conquer or die and trusting to the smiles of heaven on so just a cause, would behave with bravery and resolution.” His assurance of rewards to those who should distinguish themselves were repeated; and he declared “his confidence that, if the army would but emulate and imitate their brave countrymen in other parts of America, they would, by a glorious victory, save their country, and acquire to themselves immortal honour.”
Major general Putnam was now directed to July 25. to take command at Brooklyn, which camp was re-enforced with six regiments; and he was charged most earnestly by the commander in chief, to be in constant readiness for an attack, and to guard the woods between the two camps with his best troops. On the same day, lieutenant general De Heister landed with two brigades of Hessians. The next day, he took post at Flatbush, and in the evening, lord Cornwallis with the British drew off to Flatland.
CHAP. VII. General Washington had passed the day at
1776. Brooklyn, making the best arrangements for July 26. the approaching action, and at night, returned
to New York.
The Hessians under general de Heister composed the center of the British army at Flatbush; major general Grant commanded the left wing, which extended to the coast, and the greater part of the British forces, under general Clinton, earl Percy, and lord Cornwallis, turned short to the right and approached the opposite coast at Flatland.
The two armies were now separated from each other by the range of hills already men. tioned. The center of the enemy at Flatbush was scarcely four miles distant from the lines at Brooklyn, and a direct road led across the heights from the one to the other. There was also another road, rather more circuitous than the first, leading from Flatbush by the way of Bedford, a small village on the Brooklyn side of the hills. The right and left wings of the British army were nearly equi-distant from the American works, and about five or six miles from them. The road leading from the Nar. rows along the coast, and by the way of Gowan's cove, afforded the most direct route to their left; and their right might either return by the way of Flatbush, and unite with
! General Ilowe's letter.
the center, or take a more circuitous course, CHAP. VII. and enter a road leading from Jamaica to 1776. Bedford. These several roads unite between Bedford and Brooklyn a small distance in front of the American lines.
On the direct road from Flatbush to Brooklyn, and very near the former place, the Americans had constructed in the hills, a strong redoubt in which were mounted some few pieces of artillery, and it was defended by a body of troops deemed sufficient for the purpose. The coast, and Bedford roads were guarded by detachments posted on the hills, within view of the British camp, which were relieved daily, and directions had been given to throw obstructions in the way, which might embarrass the enemy when advancing. The convention of New York had ordered general Woodhull with the militia of Long island to take post on the high grounds, as near the enemy as possible ; but he was yet at Jamaica, and seemed scarcely to suppose himself under the control of the regular officer, commanding on the island. Light parties of volunteers were directed to patrol on the road from Jamaica to Bedford, about two miles from which, and near Flatbush, colonel Miles of Pennsylvania was stationed with a regiment of riflemen.
On the 26th, colonel Lutz of the Pennsyl. vania militia, commanded on the coast road; and colonel Williams from New England, on
CHAP. VII. the road from Flatbush to Bedford. Colonel 1776. Miles with his regiment of riflemen, still re.
mained on the ground where he had originally been placed.
About nine o'clock at night, general Clinton silently drew off the van of the army, consisting of the light-infantry, grenadiers, light-horse, reserve under lord Cornwallis, and some other corps, with fourteen field-pieces, from Flatland, across the country, through that part which is called the New Lotts, in order to seize a pass in the heights about three miles east of Bedford, on the Jamaica road. Arriving entirely undiscovered, about two hours before daybreak, within half a mile of the pass, he halted in order to make his dispositions for taking possession of it. Here, his patrols fell in with and captured, without giving any alarm, one of the American parties, which had been stationed on this road for the purpose of giving notice of the first approach of the enemy in that quarter. Learning from his prisoners that the pass was unoccupied, general Clinton immediately seized it; and on the appearance of day, the whole column passed the heights and advanced into the level country between them and Brooklyn. They were immediately followed by another column under lord Percy.“
m General Howe's letter.