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CHAP. VIH. having proved insufficient to stop the ships, 1776. and the British having landed, in full force, at
Frogs' neck, on the east of the Sound; it was, after much investigation, declared to be im. practicable, without a change of position, to prevent the enemy from cutting off their communication with the country, and compelling them, either to fight under great disadvantages or to surrender themselves prisoners of war. General Lee, who had but two days before joined the grand army, and whose experience, as well as his late success, gave him great weight, maintained this opinion with peculiar earnestness; and general Clinton was the only
officer dissenting from it. At the same time, The Ameri- it was determined still to hold fort Washington,
d, and to defend that post as long as possible. n. The hope was still cherished, that, by increas.
ing the obstructions in the river, ships might be prevented from passing them; and the object was deemed so all important, as to jus. tify considerable hazard in the attempt to secure it. The resolution of congress of the 11th of October, desiring general Washington, by every art and expense, to obstruct if possible the navigation of the river, contributed, not inconsiderably, to the determination for maintaining this post. The necessary measures were now taken for moving the army, so as to extend its front, or left, up the North river towards the White Plains, beyond the right of
can army evacuates York isiand, except fort
the enemy, and thus keep perfectly open its CHAP. VIII. communication with the country. The right 1776. or rear division remained a few days about King's bridge under the command of general Lee, in order to cover and secure the heavy baggage and military stores, which, in consequence of the extreme difficulty of obtaining waggons, could be but slowly removed to a place of safety.
Having received the expected re-enforce- October 18. ments, which landed at Pell's point, to which place he also transported the troops from Frogs' neck, and brought up his military stores ; general Howe moved forward his whole army, except four brigades destined for the defence of New York, through Pelham's manor, towards New Rochelle. Some skirmishes took place on the march, near East Chester, with a part of Glover's brigade, in which the conduct of the Americans was mentioned with satisfaction by the commander in chief; and as general Howe took post at New Rochelle, a village on Twenty-first the Sound; general Washington occupied the heights between that place and the North river.
At New Rochelle, the British army was joined by the second division of Germans under the command of general Knyphausen, and by an incomplete regiment of cavalry from Ireland; some of whom with one of the transports had been captured on their passage. Both armies move now moved towards the White Plains, a strong whitePlains.
CHAP. VIII. piece of ground where a large camp had been 1776. marked out, and was already occupied by a
detachment of militia sent for the particular purpose of guarding some magazines of provi. sions which had been there collected. The main body of the American troops formed a long line of intrenched camps, extending from twelve to thirteen miles, on the different heights from Valentine's hill, near King's bridge, to the White Plains; fronting the British line of march, and the Brunx, which lay between them, so as to collect in full force at any point, as circumstances might require. The motions of the enemy were anxiously watched, not only for the purposes of security, and of avoiding a general action, but in order to seize every occa. sion which might present itself, of engaging any of their out posts with advantage. While their army lay about New Rochelle, major Rodgers, with his regiment, was advanced further eastward to Mamaraneck, on the Sound, where he was believed to be in a great degree covered by the position of the other troops. An attempt was made to surprise him in the night, by a detachment which should pass between him and the main body of the British army, and by a coup de main bear off his whole corps. Although the plan was well formed, and major Rodgers was actually surprised; yet the at. tempt did not completely succeed. About sixty of the enemy were killed and taken, and about
the same number of muskets, with several CHAP. VIII. blankets were brought off. The loss of the 1776. Americans was only two killed, and eight or ten wounded : among the latter was major Green of Virginia, a very brave officer, who led the advanced party, and who received a ball through his body.
Not long afterwards a regiment of Pennsylvania riflemen, under colonel Hand, fell in with and engaged about an equal number of Hessian chasseurs, over whom they obtained some advantage.
The caution of the English general was increased by these evidences of enterprise in his adversary. His object seems to have been to avoid skirmishing, and to bring on a general action, if that could be effected under favourable circumstances; if not, he knew well the approaching dissolution of the American army, and calculated, not without reason, to derive from that event nearly all the advantages of a victory. He proceeded therefore slowly. His marches were in close order, his encampments compact, and well guarded with artillery; and the utmost circumspection was used not to expose any part which might be vulnerable.9
As the sick and baggage reached a place of safety, general Washington gradually drew in · his out posts, and took possession of the heights October 25.
9 Annual Register.
CHAP. VIII on the east side of the Brunx fronting the head
1776. of the enemy's columns. The next day he was October 26. joined by general Lee, who, with very consi.
derable address, had brought up the rear division, after the sick and the whole baggage of the army had been secured; an operation the more difficult, as the deficiency of teams was very great, in consequence of which a large portion of the labour usually performed by horses, or oxen, devolved on men.
General Washington was encamped on high broken grounds with his right flank covered by the Brunx, which meandered so as also to cover the front of his right wing which extended along the road leading down on the east side of that river, towards New Rochelle as far as the brow of the hill where his centre was posted. His left, which formed almost a right angle with his centre, and was nearly parallel to his right, extended along the hills northwardly, so as to keep possession of the commanding ground, and secure a retreat should it be necessary, from his present position, to one still more advantageous in his rear.
On the right of the army, and on the west side of the Brunx, about one mile from camp, on the road leading from the North river, was a hill, of which general M‘Dougal was ordered to take possession, for the purpose of covering the right flank. His detachment consisted of about sixteen hundred men, principally militia,