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of fort Lee.
CHAP. VIII. The surrender of fort Washington produced
1776. a determination to evacuate fort Lee, and a Evacnation removal of the stores to the interior of Jersey
was immediately commenced. Before this could be possibly completed, a large body of the enemy, consisting of two battalions of British, three of Hessian grenadiers, two of light infantry, the guards, the chasseurs, the royal highlanders, the thirty-third regiment, and a detachment of the queen's light dragoons, conjectured to amount altogether to about six thousand men, under lord Cornwallis, crossed the North river below Dobbs' ferry, and endea. voured, by a rapid march, to enclose the garrison of fort Lee between the North and Hackensack rivers. On the first intelligence of their approach, it was determined to meet and fight them; but it was soon discovered that their force was too great to be encountered. It was also perceived that they were extending themselves across the country, so as to surround the Americans. It was therefore deemed necessary to withdraw the garrison, with the utmost possible dispatch, from the narrow neck of land between the Hudson and Hackensack; and, with considerable difficulty, their retreat was effected over a bridge on the latter river. At fort Lee all the heavy cannon, ex. cept two twelve pounders, and a considerable quantity of provisions, and military stores, including three hundred tents, were lost. The
great difficulty experienced on this, and on all CHAP. VIII. other occasions, in obtaining waggons for the 1776. removal of stores, and baggage, rendered this loss inevitable.
General Washington now took post along the Hackensack, but it was impossible to dispute its passage. He was now in a level country, without a single intrenching tool; at the head of an army consisting of about three thousand effectives, exposed without tents to the inclement season which already prevailed; among people by no means zealous in the American cause; and in other respects, his present situation was a dangerous one.
This gloomy state of things was not brightened by the prospect before him. In casting his eyes around, no cheering object presented itself. No safe reliance could be placed on re-enforcements to be drawn from any quarter. He however made every possible exertion to collect an army, and, in the mean time, to impede as much as possible the progress of the enemy. General Carleton having retired from before Ticonderoga, he directed general Schuy. ler to send to his aid, with the utmost possible dispatch, the troops of Pennsylvania and Jersey, which had been attached to the northern army. But the march was long, their terms of service had nearly expired, and they had refused to re-inlist. General Lee was directed to cross the North river and to hold himself in readiness,
the American army.
CHAP. VIII. if the enemy should continue the campaign, to 1776, join the commander in chief;* but his army Nov. 21. too was melting away, under the influence of
the same fatal cause which had acted so uni.
versally and so banefully, and would soon be Weakness of almost totally dissolved. General Mercer, who
commanded a part of the flying camp stationed about Bergen, was also called in; but these troops had only engaged to serve until the first of December; and, like the other six months men, had already abandoned the army in grea numbers. No hope existed of retaining the remnant of them after they should possess a legal right to be discharged, and very little of supplying their places with other militia.
The present situation of the American army was precisely similar to that it had abandoned, and of consequence no serious design of attempt. ing to maintain it was formed. The Hackensack lay between them and the enemy, and the Passaic was immediately in their rear, so that the danger of being enclosed between two rivers still existed. While therefore some regiments were disposed along the Hackensack so as to afford the semblance of intending to defend it, and thus for a time to cover the few stores which could not immediately be removed; general Washington, with Beal's, Heard's, and part of Irvine's brigades, crossed over at Acquacka. nunck bridge, and took post at Newark, on the
* See Note, No. XX. at the end of the volume,
south side of the Passaic. Soon after he had CHAP. VIIL marched, major general Vaughan appeared at 1776. the head of the dragoons, grenadiers, and light infantry, before the new bridge over Hackensack; and the American detachment, left as a rear guard, being totally unable to defend it, could only break up the bridge, and retire before him over the Passaic.
On the south side of this river, the country being open behind them, it was determined to halt a few days, to make some show of resist. ance, and to endeavour to collect such a force as would keep up at least the semblance of an army. The letters of the commander in chief not having produced among the states, such exertions as the public exigences required; general Mifflin, who was believed to possess great influence in Pennsylvania, was directed to attend the government of that state, and to represent the real situation of the army, and the · danger to which Philadelphia would certainly be exposed, unless the most vigorous exertions should be made, and such large re-enforcements Ineffectual hastened to his aid, as might enable him to raise the stop the enemy in the Jerseys. He also dispatched colonel Reid, his adjutant general, to the governor of New Jersey, to lay before him the critical situation of affairs, and to press upon him the absolute necessity of making further, and immediate exertions, to prevent the whole state from being entirely overrun by the enemy. VOL. II.
CHAP. VIII. While these means were resorted to in order 1776. to strengthen himself with militia, he pressed
general Lee to hasten his march, and cautioned
Being unable to make any real opposition, as the enemy crossed the Passaic, general Wash
ington abandoned his position behind that river; Nov. 28 and the day lord Cornwallis entered Newark,
he retreated from that place to Brunswick, a
small village on the Raritan. Here the time December 1. arrived when those troops who were drawn from
Maryland and Jersey, to compose the flying camp, became entitled to their discharge, and
General Washington retreats through Jersey.