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tering delay; unless some method could be CHAP. VII. devised of forwarding both at the same instant. 1776.
“Upon the present plan, I plainly foresee an intervention of time between the old and new army, which must be filled with militia, if to be had, with whom no man, who has any regard for his own reputation, can undertake to be answerable for consequences. I shall also be mistaken in my conjectures, if we do not lose the most valuable officers in this ariny, under the present mode of appointing them; consequently, if we have an army at all, it will be composed of materials, not only entirely raw; but, if uncommon pains are not taken, entirely unfit; and I see such a distrust and jealousy of military power, that the commander in chief has not an opportunity, even by recommendation, to give the least assurances of reward for the most essential services.
“ In a word, such a cloud of perplexing cir. cumstances appears before me, without one flattering hope; that, I am thoroughly convinced, unless the most vigorous and decisive exertions are immediately adopted to remedy these evils, that the certain and absolute loss of our liberties will be the inevitable consequence; as one unhappy stroke will throw a powerful weight into the scale against us, and enable general Howe to recruit his army, as fast as we shall ours; numbers being disposed and many actually doing so already. Some of
CHAP. VII. the most probable remedies, and such as ex. 1776. perience has brought to my more intimate
knowledge, I have taken the liberty to point out; the rest I beg leave to submit to the consideration of congress.
"I ask pardon for taking up so much of their time with my opinions, but I should betray that trust which they and my country have reposed in me, were I to be silent upon matters so extremely interesting.”
On receiving this very serious letter, it was resolved that the pay of the officers should be raised according to the wishes of the general; and that it should be recommended to the legis. latures of those states having any regiments now in the continental service, either at New York, Ticonderoga, or New Jersey, forthwith to depute committees to those places in order to appoint officers to the regiments to be raised under the new establishment; that they might re-inlist those men now in service, who should incline to engage for the war. They also recommended to these committees, in making these appointments, to advise with the general and to promote such officers as had distinguished themselves for abilities, activity, and vigilance, and more especially for their atten. tion to military discipline; and not to appoint any officer who should leave his station in the army, and be absent without leave. On further reflection, they added another recommendation, which manifests the sense they entertained of CHAP. VIII. the ill consequences of the pernicious mode of 1776. creating officers originally adopted. It was, that all the officers to be appointed be men of honour* and known abilities, without a particular regard to their having before been in service. In addition to the pày of the privates, a suit of regimentals was allowed them annually; and the states, as far as Virginia, were urged to use their utmost endeavours to complete their quotas.
The armies did not long retain their position on York island. General Howe was sensible of the strength of the American camp, and had no inclination to force it. His plan was to compel general Washington either to abandon it, or to fight him in a situation in which a defeat must be attended with the total destruction of his army. With this view, he determined, after throwing up intrenchments on M‘Gowan's hill for the protection of NewYork, to gain the rear of the American camp, by the New England road, along which their principal supplies of provisions were received ; and also to possess himself of the North river above King's bridge. To assure himself of the practicability of this plan, so far as respected the river, three frigates passed up it under the fire from fort Washington, and the post opposite to
* See Note, No. XIX. at the end of the volume.
Chap. viu. it on the Jersey shore, afterwards denominated
1776. fort Lee, without sustaining any injury from October 9. the batteries, or being at all impeded by the
chevaux-de-frize which had been sunk in the channel, between those forts. *
This point being attained, he, in pursuance of his plan either to force Washington out of
his present lines, or to enclose him in them, Twelfth. embarked a great part of his army on board flat
bottomed boats, and passing through Hellgate The enemy into the Sound, landed at Frogs' neck, not far Frogs” neck. from West Chester on the east, on Connecticut
side of the Sound, and about nine miles from the camp on the heights of Haerlem.
Frogs' neck is completely surrounded by the water, which, at flood tide, is unfordable; so that it is, in fact, an island communicating with the main land by bridges thrown over the intervening water. These bridges were broken down by the Americans, and works were immediately thrown up to obstruct the march of the enemy from their present encampment into the country. General Washington, who was
* The command of the upper part of the river, at all times important to the military operations in that quarter, was rendered peculiarly interesting by the certain information, that a very great proportion of the inhabitants were in the royal interest, and were actually meditating an insurrection for the purpose of seizing the posts in the highlands; to prevent which, the militia of New Hampshire were ordered to Fishkill.
well aware of the intention with which general CHAP. VIII. I Howe had taken this new position, moved a 1776. è part of his troops from York island to join those e at King's bridge, and detached some regiments
to West Chester, for the purpose of opposing, and skirmishing with the enemy, so soon as they should march from their present station. The road from Frogs' point to King's bridge leads through a strong country, intersected in every direction by numerous stone fences; so that it would have been very difficult to move artillery, or even infantry, in compact columns, except along the main road, which had been broken up in several places. The general, therefore, entertained sanguine hopes of the event, should a direct attack be made on his present camp.
General Howe continued some days, quietly waiting for his artillery, military stores, and re-enforcements from Staten island, which were detained by an unfavourable wind, during which, it was impracticable to pass from the East river into the Sound.
In the mean time, as the habits of thinking in America absolutely required that every im: portant measure should be the result of consul. tation, and should receive the approbation of a majority; à council of general officers was October 16. called, and the propriety of removing the American army from its present position laid before them. The obstructions in the North river VOL. II.