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intrenchments thrown up by the advanced corps. Every thing being prepared for bringing on an action, gen. Howe marches the troops early in the morning (Oct. 28.) in two columns toward the White Plains, the left being commanded by gen. Heister. All gen. Washington's advanced parties being drove back to their works before noon, the army forms with the right upon the road to Marrineck, about a mile distant from the Ainerican centre, and the left at the Brunx, about the same distance from the right flank of their intrenchments. Gen. M'Dougall, with about 1600 men possesses an advantageous hill separated from the right flank of the interenchments by the Brunx, which by its windings covers the general's troops from the leít of the royal forces. Gen. Leslie, with the second brigade of British troops the Hessian grenadiers under col. Donop, and a battalion of the Hessian corps, are ordered to dislodge him. Previous to their attack col. Rall, commanding a brigade of the Hessians, on the left, passes the Brunx, and gains a post which enables hiin to annoy the flank of M’Dougali's corps, while errgaged with the other forces in front. Four regiments of militia, upon the approach of about 250 light horse, run away and leave the general with 600 men ; who defend the hill for about an hour, against the whole fire of twelve pieces artillery, and of the musketry and cavalry, with the loss of forty-seven men killed and seventy wounded. The gaining of this post take up some considerable time, which is prolonged by the Americans supporting a broken and scattered engagement in defence of the adjoining walls and enclosure. In the evening, the Hessian grenadiers are ordered forward within cannon shot of the intrenchinents, the second brigade of the British forms in the rear, and the two Hessian brigades in the left of the second. The right and centre do not quit the ground on which they have formed. In this position the whole royal arıny lie upon their arms during the night, expecting to attack the enemy's camp the next day. The next day (Oct. 19.] they advance to a hill, on which evl. Glover commands, and where he has one brass twenty-four, a six, and à three pounder, and three iron twelve pounders. They form a line as far as he can sce from right to left, and appear to be about 12,000. They approach in four columns, the cavalry and artillery in front, and continue doing it till within about three quarters of a mile of the hill, then file off to the left to take post on a hill to the colonel's right, which overlookstbat be is posted on. They have to pass a valley. He reserves his fire till they get into it, in order to ascend the hill; he begins with the three pounder, next the six, reserving the brass iwon*** Col. Glover's letter, dated North-Calle, Ney, 14, 1776.
ty-four till the last. They are put into great confusion ; howeyer they ascend the hill with the light horse, and one piece of artillery, a three pounder, fire it four times and retreat. . Gen. Howe, observing that gen. Washington's lines were much strengthened by additional works, deferred all further at. tack till the arrival of more troops from those which had been left with lord Percy, to watch the garrison of Fort Washington. He had declined bringing on a general action, the preceding day, upon observing that gen. Washington had formed a second line ;* but the American discipline was so defective, that had the former attacked, the superior discipline of his troops would probably liave obliged the first line to have given way, which by falling back upon the second, might have occasioned a total defeat. A general engagement was expected by the Ainericans ; and the soldiers were very desirous of coming to blows with the enemy, and wished much to engage. During the engagement with gen. Leslie's corps, the American baggage was moving off in full sight of the enemy. The then position of the continental army, general Lee condemned as the most execrable. He was of opinion, that had the enemy attacked the centre, and brought on a general engagement, the Americans inust have met with a total defeat, or have lost all there baggage, though they had now organized themselves, and had procured ox-teams and further conveniencies., On the other hand gen. Washington did not reinforce and support the right wing, for he meant that the enemy should attack the centre. The corps under general Leslie must have suffered very considerably, for from an authentic return of his own brigade, since found on the ground, it appears that the killed of it were a lieutenant colonel, 2 captains, a lieutenant, an ensigo, a sergeant, and 22 privates ; and that the wounded were 2 captains 3 licutenants, 12 sergeants, and 109 privates. + The British made only 30 privates, and officers and staff, prisoners at White Plains. I But the Americans conjectured at first that they had suffered a much greater loss, not less than 400 in killed, wounded and missing. They were soon convinced of there mistake. A number of the inilitia who ran off at the sight of the light horse in the beginning and were missing for a while, were found afterward. The killed and wounded however, were probably more than given above, owing to the scattered engagements, distinct from that upon the hill, In the several skirmishes which have happened since the
* Colonel Henly told me in the evening of Feb. 26, 1984, that gen. Lee, when a prisoner asked gen. Howe, why he did not bring on a general engage ment, and received for answer the reason above mentioned. + Colonel Glover's letter.
· Board of war.
junction of Knyphausen, the Americans have taken a number of prisoners, Hessians, Waldeckers and a few British. The Gerinans were much afraid of being murdered as soon as they were caught, and were very agreeably disappointed on meeting with civility and kindness.
Gen. Howe, having been joined by the troops from lord Percy, made dispositions for attacking the American lines early on the last of October ; but an extreme wet night and morning prevented the execution at the time appointed, and it was not attempted afterward, though the day proved fair. Gen. Washing, ton gained intelligence of his danger, by a deserter; drew off most of his troops at night; totally evacuated his camp early in
the morning of November the first; and took higher ground tv. ward the North-Castle district, leaving a strong rear guard on the heights and in the woods of White-Plains. An order was given by the British commander to attack this corps ; but the execution of it was prevented by a violent rain. Col. Ausun of the Massachusetts, who commanded the guards and sentries, being heated with liquor, burnt the town on White-Plains, unnecessarily and without any orders.
The British general, perceiving that Washington meant to aFoid an engagement, and that the nature of the country would not adınit of his being forced, made a sudden and unexpected removal (Nov. 5.] from the several posts he had taken in the front of the Americans, and advanced toward Kingsbrigde and the North-River. Gen. Knyphausen had been sent off before, and encamped on the ed near the bridge on New-York Island, the Americans who were in the neighbouring heights having quitted the same, and retired to Fort Washington.
An acceptible break here offers for amusing you with an anecdote or two. Gen. Lee, while at White-Plains, lodged in a sinell house close in with the road, by which gen. Washington had to pass when out on reconnoitring. Returning with his officers they called in and took a dinner. They were no sovner gone, than Lee told his aids, “ You must look me out another place, for i shall have Washington and all his puppiescontinually calling upon me, and they will eat me up." The next day Lee seeing Washiington out upon the like business, and supposing that he should have another visit, ordered his servant to write with chalk upon the door-No victuals dressed here to-day. When the company approached and saw the writing, they pushed off with much good humor for their own table, without resenting the habituai oddity of the man. • It happened, that a garden of a widow woman, which lay between the two camps, was robbed at night. Her son a mere
boy, and little of his age, asked leave for finding out and securing the pilterer, in case he should return; which being granted, he concealed himself with a gun among the weeds. A British grenadier, a strapping highlander, came and filled his large bag; when he had it on his shoulder, the boy left his covert, came softly behind him, cocked his gun, and called out to the fellow, ** You are my prisoner ; if you attempt to throw your bag down I will shoot you dead : go forward in that road.” The boy kept close to him, threatened, and was always prepared to execute his threate ening. Thus the boy drove him into the American camp, where he was secured. When the grenadier was at biberty to throw down his bag, and saw who had made liim prisoner, he was inost horridly mortified, and exclaimed~" British grenadier made prisoner by such a d d brat- by such a
d d brat." The American officers were higly entertained with the adventure ; made a collection for the boy, and gave him some pounds. He returned fully satisfied with the losses his mother had sustained. The soldier had side arms, but they were of no use, as he could not get rid of his bag*,”
[Nov. 8.] Gen. Washington wrote to gen. Greene at Fort Lee, “ Sir, the late passage of the three vessels up the North-River, (which we have just received advice of) is so plain a proof of the inefficacy of all the obstructions we have thrown into it, that I cannot but think it will fully justify a change in the disposition which has been made. If we cannot prevent vessels passing up, and the enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it answer, to attempt to hold a post from which the expected benefit cannot be had? I am therefore in clined to think it will not be prudent to hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington; but as you are on the spot, leave it to you to give such orders as to evacuating Mount Washinga ton, as you judge best, and so far revoking the order given to colo Magaw to defend it to the last. The best accounts from the ene. my assure us of a considerable movement among their boats the last evening; and so far as can be collected from the various sources of intelligence, they must design a penetration into Jer sey, and fall down upon your post. You will therefore imme, diately have all the stores, &c. removed, (from your post) which you do not dcem necessary, for your defence; and as the enemy have drawn great relief, from the forage and provision they have found in the country, and which our tenderness spared, you will do well to prevent their receiving any fresh supplies
. * Mr. Vanbrugh Livinglon, of New York, told me he had ihis from major Ross, of Lancafter ia Pepnsylvania, who saw the soldier brought in,
there, by destroying it, if the inhabitants will not drive off their stock, and remove the hay, grain, &c. in time. Experience has shown that a contrary conduct is not of the least advantage to the poor inhabitants, from whom all their effects of every kind, arc taken without distinction, and without the least satisfaction. Troops are filing off from hence as fast as our circumstances and situation will admit, in order to be transported over the river with all expedition.” :
The next day general Greene answered" Sir, upon the whole I cannot help thinking the garrison (at Fort Washington) is of advantage'; and I cannot conceive it to be in any great danger; the men can be brought off at any time, but the stores may not be so casily removed, yet I think they can be got off in spite of the enemy, if matters grow desperate. This post is of no importance only in conjunction with Mount Washington. I was over there the last evening, and the enemy seem to be disposing matters to besiege the place; but colonel Magaw thinks it will take them till December expires before they can carry it. If the enemy do not find it an object of iinportance, they will not trouble themselves about it, if they do, it is a full proof they feel an injury from our possessing it. Our giving it up will open a free communication with the country, by way of Kingsbridge, that must be a great advantage to them and injury to us." . • (Nov. 12.] Within a few days gen. Washington crossed the North-River with a part of his ariny, and stationed himself in the neighborhood of Fort Lee. The troops left at Northcastle, under general Lee (Nov. 14.] were 7500 strong, including the 3000 militia of general Lincoln's division (whose time of scrvice ended on the 17th) and 1700 of general Fellows's brigade (whose service ended on the 1st of December.) As the dissolution of the army was approaching apace with the end of the year, gen. Washington applied to the Massachusetts for 4000 men, militia. (Nov. 16.] Gen. Lee addressed the old, under Lincoln, and conjured the officers and soldiers, as they regarded the sacred cause in which they were engaged, to continue in their present posts a few days longer, till Thursday at the most, assuring them it was of the last importance. But they were not to be prevailed upon, though their own commander urged a compliance to the utmost of his power. All except general Lincoln and about 150 privates, went off the next day. - Mean while the royal army approached Fort Washington, and on the 15th general Howe summoned the commanding officer to surrender, who answered, that he would defend himself to the last extremity. General Washington received an account of the summons at Hackinsack, immediately repaired to Fortlee, and