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had partly crossed the North-River, when he met generals Putnamand Greene, who were just returning from thence, and informed him that the troops were in high spirits, and would make a good defence; it being late at night, he returned. Now was the moment for withdrawing the garrison, and one would think, that as the attack was fixed for the next day, gen. Howe designed by the summons, that it should be taken on the approaching night, and wished by that mean to save the men that he would otherwise lose. But defence had been concluded upon.
[Nov. 16.] The royalarmy therefore inake four attacks upon the fort the next morning; while they are advancing, generals Wash. ington, Putnam and Greene, and col. Knox, with their aids, having crossed the river, are making up to it. Some one or 0ther perceiving the danger of their being soon shut in, urges their returning instantly. The commander in chief is hardly persuaded, and complies with reluctance; but the company in. sist upon it, and prevail. The first attack, on the north side, is conducted by gen. Knyphausen, at the head of two columns of Hessians and Waldeckers. The second, on the east side, is led on by gen. Matthew, at the head of the first and second battalions of light infantry, and two battalions of guards, supported by lord Cornwallis with a body of grenadiers and the thirty-third regiment. These forces advance by the East-River, and land out of Hat boats, by Haerlem Creek, upon the enemy's right, The third attack, intended chiefly as a feint, is conducted by lieut. col. Sterling, with the forty-second regiment. The last attack is made by lord Percy, with the corps he commands on the south of the island. All the attacks are supported with a nu. merous, powerful and well served artillery.
The Hessians under gen. Knyphausen, have a thick wood to pass, where col. Rawling's regiment of riflemen are posted ;-a warm engagement commences, and is continued for a consider; able time, in which the former are much exposed, and lose in
killed and wounded, near upon 800 men by that single regiment. Mean while the light-infantry land; and are exposed, as before landing, to a very brisk and continual fire from the enemy, who are covered by the rocks and trees among which they are posted.
The former, however, extricate themselves by clanbering up a : very steep and rough mountain, when they soon disperse the
enemy, and make way for the landing of the rest of the troops without opposition Lord Percy having carried an advanced work on his side, col. Sterling is ordered to attempt a landing with the forty-second regiment, upon the left of the enemy's Jines toward New-York; and two battalions of the second brigade are directed to support him. He advances his boats through
a heavy fire, and forcing his way up a stoep height, gains the summit, and takes 170 prisoners, and then penetrates across the island. The detachment from the fiving camp of the Ameri. cans, having given way and quitted their station, without making a firm stand, col. Magaw leaves the lines, and throws himself into the fort, lest the royal army should get possession of it before him. Col. Rall, who leads the right coluinn of gen. Knyphausen's attack, having forced the enemy in the mean time, pushes forward to their advanced works, and lodges his column within a hundred yards of the fort. This done, he summions them to surrender; and upon gen. Knyphausen's appearing, it is agreed that the troops be considered as prisoners of war, and that the officers should keep their baggage and side arms. · The number of prisoners, including officers, amounted to 2700, beside those taken by the forty-second regiment. Gen. Greene wished to have been entrusted with the defence of the fort on the day of attack, as did some other generals. He blames colonel Magaw for suffering the troops to crowd into the fort, upon their quitting the lines, instead of ordering them to the brow of the hill facing the north, where the Hessians attacked ; and is of opinion, that if they had been placed there, the royal ariny might have keen kept off till night, when the troops might have been removed. But the capital mistake was their not being removed the preceding niglit.
While the attack was carrying on, a captain Gooch boldly ventured to cross over from Fort Lee, with a letter from general , Washington to colonel Magaw, acquainting him, that if he could hold out till night, the garrison should be taken off. He delivered the letter, pushed through the fire of the enemy, prefer,ring that danger to being made a prisoner, and escaped anhurt.
General Washington could view several parts of the attack; and . when he saw his men bayonetted, and in that way killed, while begging quarter, he cried with the tenderness of a child, and
exclaimed at the barbarity that was practised. His heart has - not been yet steeled by plunging into acts of cruelty. When
general Lee read the letter sent by express, giving an account of Fort Washington's being taken, resentment and vexation led him, unfeeling as he was in common, to weep plentifully. He wrote on the 19th to the commander in chief, “O! general, why would you be over-persuaded by men of inferior judgment
to your own? It was a cursed affair.” He had exclaimed before, .. upon hearing that the defence of it was to be risked, “Then we are undone."
From that moment it was apparent, that the British ships could safely pass up and down the North-River, in defiance of
all the obstructions thrown in the channel, and of the forts Washington and Lee, the American commander concluded that these were no longer eligible, and that Fort Washington ought to be evacuated while it could be done; which oceasioned his letter of the sth. When he came to Fort Lee, soon after crossing the North-River, he found no measures had been taken toward such evacuation, in consequence of that letter. General Grecne, of whose judgment he entertained a good opinion, decidedly opposed it; other opinions coincided with Greene's; it was thought politic to waste the campaign without coming to a general action on the one hand, and without suffering the enemy to over-run the country on the other; every impediment whicho stood in their way, was judged a mean to answer these purposes, and when thrown into the scale with those opinions which were opposed to evacuation, caused that warfare in the mind of the commander in chief, and that hesitation whicts have ended in the loss of the garrison. The advisability of ato tempting to hold the post, being repugnant to his own judgment, the event which has happened fills him with the greater regret. But he will exhibit an instance of generosity and magnanimity, by submitting silently to all the censure that may be cast upon him, sooner than injure the character of those whose advice has ensnared him..
It is imagined on good grounds, that the royal army lost in the attack full 1200 men in killed and wounded. The next object that engaged their attention was Fort Lee, situated upon a neck of land about ten miles long, running up the North-River on the one side, and on the other bounded by the Ilackinsack and the English Neighborhood, a branch of it, neither of which are fordable near the fort. The neck joins the main land almost opposite to the communication between the North and East-Rivers at Kingsbridge. On the 18th November, in the morning, lord Cornwallis, by means of boats which entered the North-River through this communication, landed near Closter, only a mile and a half from the English Neighborhood. His force consisted of the first and second battalions of light infantry, two companies of chasseurs, two battalions of British, and two ditto of Hessian grenadiers, two battalions of guards, and the thirty-third and forty-second regiments. The account of this movement was brought to gen. Greene while in bed. Without waiting for gen. Washington's orders, he directed the troops to march immediately, and secure their retreat by possessing themselves of the English Neighborhood; he sent off at the same time, information to gen. Washington at Hackinsack town. Having gained the ground, and drawn up the troops in face of the enemy, he
left them under the command of gen. Washington ; and return. ed to pick up the stragglers and others, whom to the amount of about 300, he conveyed over the Hackinsack to a place of safcty. By this decided movement of gen. Greene's 3000 Americans escaped ; the capture of whom at this period, must have proved ruinous. Lord Cornwallis's intent was evidently to form a line across from the place of landing to Hackinsack bridge, and thereby to hem in the whole garrison between the North and Hackinsack rivers ; but gen. Greene was too alert for him.me His lordship had but a mile and a half to march, whereas it was tour miles from Fort Lee tu the road, approaching the head of the English neighbourhood, where the other amused his lordship till gen, Washington arrived, and by a well concerted retreat, secured the bridge over the Hackinsack. But though the men were saved, some hundred barrels of flower, most of thecannon, and a considerable part of their tents and baggage, were taken : beside the trifling number of ninety-niue privates, and six officers and staff.
Nov. 22.] General Washington retreated to Newark, wliere his whole force consisted of no inore than 3500 men, He considered the cause as in the greatest danger; and said to col. Reed,
Should we retreat to the back parts of Pennsylvania, will the Pennsylvanians support us ?" The colonel answered, “ If the lower counties are subdued, and give up, the back counties will do the same." The general passed his hand over his throat, and şaid, “My neck does not feel as though it was made for a hal. ter. We must retire to Augusta county in Virginia. Numbers will be obliged to repair to us for safety ; and we must try what we can do in carrying on a predatory war : and if overpowered we must cross the Allegany mountains.” The gencral, after tarrying near a week without being molested, obtained information of lord Cornwallis's being in pursuit of him; he therefore marched for Brunswick, [Nov. 28.] leaving Ncwaik the very morning that his lordship entered it. As his lordship's van advance ed to Brunswick, by a forced march on the first of December, gen. Washington retreated to Princeton, having first delayed its pazsing the Rariton by breaking down a part of Brunswick bridge, and so secured his troops from being harrassed. Lord Core wallis, having orders nci to advance beyond Brunswick, discontinued his pursuit; but sent an express to gen. Howe at New. York, acquainting him, that by continuing it briskly he could entirely disperse the army under gen. Washington, and seize his heavy baggage, and artillery, before he could pass the Deitware. Gen. Howe returned for answer, that he would be wil
him in person inmediately,* but did not join him till the sixth. General Washington hoped to have made a stand at Brunswick, but was disappointed in his expectation of the militia ; on the day he quitted it, the service of the Jersey and Maryland bri. gades expired, and neither of them would stay an hour longer; he wrote thefore to general Lee, “ hasten your march as much as possible, or your arrival may be too late.” On the 7th, lord Cornwallis's corps marched to Princeton, which the Americans quitted the same day. The next day the corps marched in two divisions; the first advanced to Trenion, and reached the Delaware, just as the rear guard of general Washington's army, under colonel Henly, gained the opposite shore, about twelve o'clock at night. · Lord Cornwallis, who halted with the rear division within six miles of Trenton, intended crossing a body very early the next morning, near two miles below Corriel's ferry; and got the troops in readiness, and the artillery prepared to cover the landing; for at that place it was only eight and twenty rod to a spit of sand on the Pennsylvania side, on which a sufficient pumber were to have landed, and then to have marched up to Corriel's ferry, and to have taken the boats that had been collected there by the Americans, and left under a guard of only about ten men; with them it was meant to carry over the main body. In the vicinity of this place, a large sunken Durliam boat (which came down three days before, laden with flour, and which could carTy 100 men) lay concealed under a bank. This had been discovered and taken away by Mr. Mersereau, so that the British were disappointed in their expectation of finding it. They hailed one Thomson, a quaker, who lived on the other side of the Delaware, and enquired what was become of the boat, and wcre answered it was carried off. They continued reconnoitring up and down the river till ten o'clock, but finding no boats, returned to Pennytown. Men had been employed in time for taking off all the boats froin the Jersey side of the Delaware; but Mr. Mersereau's attention would not adınit of his confid.ng wholly in their care and prudence. He therefore went up the river to examine whether all the boats were really carried off or de. stroyed; upon discovering the above sunken one, which had escaped the observation of the men, and enquiring of a person in the neighborhood concerning her, he was told that she was an old one, and good for nothing; but not relving upon the information, he found her to be new, had the water bated out, and sent her off.+ The importance of this affair to the Americans,
* Loyalift's latter, Nov. To, 1777.
+ Mr. Mer sereau, afterward an American deputy commiffary of prisoners, was my informer.