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respecting the military establishment were not agreed to till the 9th of February, and did not require that the men should be furnished before the ist of April.
In consequence of these incurable defects in the system itself, the contributions of men made by the states continued to be irregular, uncertain, and out of season : and the army could never acquire that consistency and stability which would have resulted from an exact observance of the plan so often recommended.
On receiving information of the disaster experienced by the allied arms before Savannah, and the consequent resolution to abandon the siege of that place, Sir Henry Clinton, who by the arrival of the reinforcement from Europe, and the evacuation of Rhode Island, was in great force in New York, resumed his plan of active operations against the southern states. A large embarkation took place soon after that event had been announced to him ; but, as it would have been imprudent to hazard the voyage till certain information should be received that D’Estaing was no longer on the American coast, the armament did not leave the Hook till near the end of December. The de. tachment destined for the south was led by Sir Henry Clinton in person ; and the fleet by which it was escorted was conducted by Admiral Ar. buthnot. The defence of New York and its de.
pendencies devolved upon the German General Knyphausen.
The first preparations made in New York for some distant enterprise, were communicated by his faithful intelligencers to General Washington, who conjectured that the expedition contemplated must be particularly against Charlestown in South Carolina, and generally against the southern states. Hisutmost endeavours, therefore, were used to hasten the march of the troops of North Carolina, of the new levies of Virginia, and the rear division of Bland's and Baylor's regiments of cavalry, which were designed to reinforce General Lincoln. On finding the situation of the southern army to be moreunfavourable than had been supposed, he also obtained permission from Congress to detach the Virginia line to its aid.
The season for active operations in a northern climate being over, the attention of the general was turned to the distribution of his troops in winter quarters. Habit had familiarised the American army to the use of huts constructed by them. selves, and both officers and men were content to pass the winter season in a hutted camp. In disposing of the troops therefore, until the time for action should again arrive, villages in which they might be comfortably accommodated were not sought for. But wood and water, a healthy situation, convenience for supplies of provisions, sta
tions which would enable them as much as possible to cover the country, and to defend particular positions, were the objects taken into consideration, and were all to be consulted. At the same time, it was desirable to station the main
army so as to prevent its being insulted in its quarters.
With a view to these various circumstances, the army was thrown into two grand divisions. The northern division was to be commanded by General Heath, and its principal object was the security of West Point, and of the posts on the North river as low as King's-ferry. Subordinate to this, was the protection of the country on the sound, and down the Hudson to the neighbourhood of Kingsbridge.
The other and principal division of the army was to remain under the immediate command of General Washington. The station originally designed for it was the heights in rear of the Scotch plains in Jersey: but, on viewing the country, and its resources in wood and water, a position in the neighbourhood of Morris-town was chosen, to which the army was conducted, and where it was put under cover late in December. Detachments from this post were made towards the North river and Staten island, for the purpose of covering the country, and of securing it against the depredations of the enemy.
Sir Henry Clinton invests Charlestown—Colonel Wash
ington defeats Tarleton-Opinion of General Washington on the subject of defending Charlestown— Tarleton surprises and defeats an American corps at Monk's Corner—The Garrison of Fort Moultrie surrender themselves prisoners of war-Colonel White defeated by Tarleton—General Lincoln capi. tulates—Burford defeated—Sir Henry Clinton takes measures for settling the government of South Carolina and Georgia-General Gates appointed to the command of the southern army ; is defeated by Lord Cornwallis near Camden-Baron de Kaeb killed Success of General Sumpter ; his defeat.
THE departure of the French fleet from the
continent immediately following the unsuccessful assault on Savannah, produced a sudden and a gloomy change in the prospects of the southern states. The sanguine hopes which had been entertained of the recovery of Georgia, and of the total destruction of the British power in that quarter, gave place to the most melancholy apprehensions for South Carolina. Nor were these apprehensions ill founded. The continental troops under the command of
General Lincoln did not amount to more than one thousand men fit for duty; and the prospect of considerable reinforcements was by no means flattering.
The facility with which General Prevost had passed through the state, and the assurances he had received of the indisposition of a large proportion of the people to defend themselves against an army capable of effective operations, disclosed too certainly the true situation of the country, not to convince all discerning men, that a real attempt at conquest would be made the ensuing year.
General Lincoln was not blind to the danger which was approaching: but he perceived without being able to provide against it. His power as a military commander was too limited, and his influence with the civil authority of the state too weak, to draw forth in time for its protection even the means it possessed.
From the situation of the country, the preservation of its metropolis was of infinite importance to the state. Yet no preparations were making to put it in a condition to stand a siege. Fort Moultrie, which had been so gallantly defended in 1776, and which was considered as the key to the har. bour, was entirely out of repair, and Fort Johnson on James's island had fallen into ruins. The works across the neck, which were commenced when Charlestown was threatened by General Prevost, were left unfinished ; and towards the water, no