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the several counties of the state of Pennsylvania, CHAP. VIII. to rouse the freemen thereof to the immediate 1776. defence of the city and country;” and they resolved, “ that the assembly be requested to appoint a committee of their body to make the tour with him, and assist in this good and necessary work."*
In the hope that the militia might be prevailed on to furnish more effectual aid, so as to enable him even to act offensively, if they saw a large regular army to which they might attach themselves, the commander in chief had directed general Gates to march with the regulars from the northern army, and, in the confidence that, if any movements should be made by the enemy against the highlands, the New England militia might be depended on to sup. ply the places of the troops now stationed at those posts. General Heath was also ordered from Peck's-Kill. · Although general Lee had been repeatedly urged, in the most pressing manner, to join the commander in chief, he proceeded slowly in the execution of these orders, manifesting a strong disposition to retain his separate command, and rather to hang on, and threaten the
* General Armstrong of Pennsylvania, was at the same time sent by general Washington into that part of the state where he possessed most influence, to encourage the recruiting service, and favour the attempt of raising the militia.
CHAP. VIII. rear of the enemy, than strengthen the army 1776. in their front. With this view he proposed
establishing himself at Morristown; but on receiving a letter from general Washington stating his disapprobation of this plan, which though proper in itself, and under other circumstances, was now totally inadmissible, as the army, without this re-enforcement, was not strong enough to stop the march of the enemy to Philadelphia; and pressing him to come on; he still declared an opinion in favour of his own proposition, and proceeded reluct. antly towards the Delaware. While on this march through Morris county, and at the distance of about twenty miles from the enemy, he, very indiscreetly, quartered under a slight guard, in a house about three miles from his army. Information of this circumstance was given by a countryman to colonel Harcourt, at that time detached with a body of cavalry for the purpose of gaining intelligence concerning his movements, who immediately formed and executed the design of seizing him. By a rapid march this corps of cavalry very early in the morning, reached the house where the
general had lodged, who received no intimation Capture of of its approach until the house was surrounded,
- and he found himself a prisoner to colonel
Harcourt; who bore him off in triumph to the
treated, not as a prisoner of war, but as a CHAP. VIII. deserter from the British service.
1776. This misfortune made a very serious impression on all America. The confidence originally placed in general Lee, created by his experience and real talents, had been very greatly increased by the success which had attended him while commanding in the southern department. In addition to this, it was generally believed that his opinions, during the military operations in New York, had contributed to the adoption of those judicious movements which had, in a great measure, defeated the plans of the enemy in that quarter. It was also believed, but without any certain knowledge of the fact, that he had opposed the majority in the council of war, which determined to maintain the forts Washington and Lee. No officer, except the commander in chief, possessed, at that time, so large a portion of the confidence either of the army, or of the country; and his loss was almost universally bewailed as the greatest calamity which had befallen the American arms. It was regretted by no person more than by general Washington himself, who esteemed highly his merit as a soldier, and lamented sincerely his captivity, both on account of his personal feelings, and of the public interest.
General Sullivan, on whom the command of that division of the army devolved after the
go into win.
CHAP. VIII. capture of Lee, obeyed promptly the orders 1776. which had been directed to that officer, and,
crossing the Delaware at Philipsburg, joined the commander in chief about the twentieth, whose effective force was now increased to nearly seven thousand men. He was also joined on the same day by general Gates with a part of the northern army.
All attempts of the British general to get pos. session of boats for the purpose of transporting
his army over the Delaware having failed, he The British appeared to have determined to close the camter quarters. paign, and to retire into winter quarters. About
four thousand men were cantoned on the Delaware, at Trenton, Bordentown, the White Horse, and Burlington; and the remaining part of the army of Jersey was distributed from that river to the Hackensack. Strong corps were posted at Princeton, Brunswick, and Elizabeth town; but general Washington apprehended that the intention of taking Philadelphia, in the course of the winter, was only postponed till the ice should become sufficiently firm to bear the army.
To intimidate as much as possible, and thereby impede the recruiting business, was believed to have been no inconsiderable induce. ment with general Howe for covering, with his army, so large a portion of Jersey. To coun. teract his views in this respect, was an object of real importance. For that purpose general Washington ordered three regiments, who were CHAP. VIII. marching from Peck's-Kill, to halt at Morris. 1776. town, and to unite with about eight hundred Jersey militia, who had collected under colonel Ford at the same place. General Maxwell was detached to take the command of these troops, with orders to watch the motions of the enemy, and to endeavour to harass them in their marches, to give intelligence of all their movements, and especially of such as might be made from Brunswick towards Princeton or
Trenton; to keep up the spirits of the militia, and, as much as possible, prevent the inhabi. tants from going within the British lines, making their submission, and taking protections.
The short interval between the enemy's going into winter quarters, and the recom- December 20. mencement of active operations, was employed by general Washington in repeating the representations he had so often made to congress respecting the army for the ensuing campaign. The extreme dangers resulting from short inlistments, and of relying on militia, had now been fully exemplified; and his remonstrances on that subject were supported by that severe experience, which improves while it chastises. He had felt greatly, in the course of the campaign, his want of cavalry, of artillery, and of engineers; he had before stated to congress his ideas on these important subjects, and he now re-urged them on that body. He was carnest VOL. II.