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CHAP. II. indiscreetly exposed to the dangers of that un.
1777. healthy climate in this sickly season, and by

the time they could reach Carolina, general
Howe might re-embark his army, and return
to act against Philadelphia, or the posts on the
North river, as might best promote his views,
without the possibility of encountering an op.
position which could in any degree check the
execution of his plans. To counterbalance the
injury which might be sustained in the south,
the army under his particular command ought,
he conceived, to avail itself of the weakness of
the enemy in the North, and to be immediately
employed, either against the army from Canada,
or the posts of the British in New York as
might promise most advantage. He had been
vassiduous since general Howe left that place, in
collecting the most accurate information of the
strength and position of the troops remaining
for its defence, and believed, that consequences
very important to the issue of the war would
ensue from directing all his efforts eitheçagainst
Burgoyne or Clinton. To be in readiness for
the execution of one or the other of these plans,

he had determined to move on towards the August 21. North river; but the very day of his communi.

cating this determination to congress, intelli-
gence was 'received of the appearance of the
enemy in full force in the Chesapeak.
· Orders were immediately given to the differ-
ent divisions of the army to unite, with the

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utmost expedition, in the neighbourhood of CHAP. III. Philadelphia, in order to proceed towards the 1777. head of the Chesapeak; and the militia of Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and the northern counties of Virginia were directed to take the field. These orders for marching were received by general Sullivan, who had been encamped in Jersey about Hanover, just on his return from an expedition to Staten Island. The force of the enemy on that island amounted to between two and three thousand men, of whom nearly one thousand were provincials,' who were stationed at different places on the coast opposite the Jersey shore. The British and German troops, amounting, according to the intelligence of general Sullivan, to sixteen hundred men, were in a fortified camp near the watering place. General Sullivan thought it Expedition practicable to surprise and bring off the pro- Sullivan vincials before they could be supported by the Sca European troops, and he was the more stimulated to make the attempt, by their occasional incursions into Jersey. In one of these very lately made as far as Woodbridge, they had carried off a number of cattle and about twelve individuals noted for their attachment to the American cause. This expedition was undertaken with the select troops of his division, aided by a few Jersey militia under colonel Frelinghuysen. They had to march about twenty miles to the place of embarkation,

Expedition of general

against Staten island

CHAP. III. where only six boats had been procured. Three 1777. of these were allotted colonel Ogden who com.

manded one detachment intended to attack colonel Lawrence, who lay near the old Blazing Star ferry, and colonels Dungan, and Allen, who lay about two miles from each other, towards Amboy. The other three were taken by general Deborre, who was accompanied by general Sullivan in person, and who was to attack colonel Barton near the new Blazing Star ferry, and, having secured that party, to assist Ogden. General Smallwood with his brigade was to cross at Halsey's point, and attack Buskirk's regiment which lay near Decker's ferry. All the troops crossed over into the island before day, without being perceived by the enemy. From being misconducted by his guides, Smallwood began his attack on a different point from that which was intended, in consequence of which, the regiment he attacked made its escape; but Ogden and Deborre succeeded to a very considerable extent. Lawrence and Barton were completely surprised, and both of them, with several of their officers and men, were taken. The alarm being now given it was necessary to use the utmost dispatch in drawing his forces off the island. It had been impracticable to obtain a sufficient number of boats to embark them all at the same time; and some confusion appears to have prevailed in this part of the business. General Campbell

with a considerable force advanced upon them; CHAP. 10. and the rear guard, after defending themselves 1777. for some time with great gallantry, finding the boats could not be brought back to take them over the channel, were under the necessity of şurrendering prisoners of war.

This enterprise appears to have been well planned, and in its commencement to have been happily executed. Its disasterous con. clusion is most probably attributable to the want of a sufficient number of boats, without which the expedition ought not to have been undertaken. : In his letters to the commander in chief, and to congress, general Sullivan reported that he had brought off eleven officers, and one hundred and thirty privates. He was also of opinion that a considerable number must have been killed in the different skirmishes which took place in the morning. He stated his own loss to have been one major, one captain, one lieutenant, and ten privates killed, and fifteen wounded; and nine officers, among whom were majors Stewart, Tillard, and Woodson, and one hun. dred and twenty-seven privates, prisoners.

In the account given of this action by general Campbell as published, he stated himself to have made two hundred and fifty-nine prisoners, among whom were one lieutenant colonel, three majors, two captains and fifteen inferior officers.

VOL. III,

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CHAP. III.

come up the Chesapeak and land an army under sir William Howe at Elk river.

August 28.

CHAP. III. The British fleet having entered the Chesa

1777. peak, sailed towards its head with favourable. British fleet winds, and without experiencing any disaster, Chesapeak entered Elk river, up which they proceeded as army under high as it was safely navigable. On the twenty

fifth of August, the army landed without any show of opposition, at the ferry. On the 27th, sir William Howe marched, with one division, to the head of Elk, and the next day advanced his van to Gray's hill, leaving general Knyphausen with three brigades, at the place of landing, and stationing one brigade on the communication between the two encampments. General Knyphausen was ordered to cross the ferry, and

take post at Cecil court-house, from whence September 3. he was to proceed on the east side and effect a

junction with sir William Howe, seven or eight miles south of Christiana.”

The whole force of the British army which landed at Elk ferry has been generally computed at eighteen thousand men. They were in good health and spirits, trained to the service, admirably supplied with all the implements of war, and led by a general of experience and unquestionable military talents. If the army was in any respect defective, it was in cavalry and draft-horses. They had been greatly distressed for forage through the preceding winter, and their horses had suffered in the long voy. age from New York to Elk river.

hGeneral Howe's letter.

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