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ty-four till the last. They are put into great confusion ^ Iiowtvcr they ascend the hill with the light horse, and one piece bf 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 attack 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 have obliged the first line to have given way, which by falling back upon the second, might have occasioned a tp^al defeat. A general engagement was expected by the Americans; 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. , Hc.pps of opinion, that had the enemy attacked the centre, and brought on a general engagement, the Americans must have met w.uh a total defeat, or have lost all there baggage, though they had now organized themselves, and had procured ox-teams and further conveniences. 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 ensign, a sergeant, and 22 privates; and that the wounded were 2 captains 3 lieutenants, 12 sergeants, and 109 privates, f The British made only 30 privates, and 4 ofhcers,and staff, prisoners at White Plains.% 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 militia 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, 1784, that gen. Lee, when a prifoner afkedgen. Howe, why he did not bring on a general engagement, and received lor anfwer the teafon above mentioned.
t Colonel Jlover'a letter. J Board of war. ^. *
junction of Knyphausen, the Americans have taken a number of prisoners, Hessians, Waldeckers and a few British. The Germans were much afraid of being murdere-d 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 presented the execution at the time appointed, and it was not at'tempted afterward, though the day proved fair. Gen. Washington 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 to'Srvard" 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. Coi. Austin of •the Massachusetts, who commanded the guards and sentries, being heated with liquor, burnt the town on White-Plains, unnecessarily arid without any orders. s The British general, perceiving that Washington meant to avoid an engagement, and that the nature of the country would, not admit of his being forced, made a sudden and unexpected re'moval [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 oft' before, 'and encamped on the 2d 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 ancc"dote or two. Gen.iee, while at White-Plains, lodged in a small house close in with the road, by Which gen. Washington had ti» pass when out on reconnoitring. Returning with his officers they called in and took a dinner. They were no sooner gone, than 'Lee told his aids," You must look me out another place, for. I shall have Washington and all his puppiescontinually calling up'on me, and they will eat me up." The next day Lee seeing Washington out upon the like business, and supposing that he should have another visit, ordered his servant to write with chalk upoa 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 habitual oddity of the man.
It happened, that a garden of a widow woman, which fay between the two equips, was robbed at night. Her son a mere
Vol. a. Q h°y>
boy, and little of his age, asked leave for finding out and securin the pilferer, 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 piepared to execute his threatening. 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 him prisoner, he was most horridly mortified, and exclaimed—“ A British grenadier made prisoner by such a d 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 inclined 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 Washington, as you judge best, and so far revoking the older given to o Magaw to defend it to the last. The best accounts from the enemy 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 Jersey, and fall down upon your post. You will therefore immediately have all the stores, &c. removed, (from your post) which you do not deem 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
d brat— by such a d-d brat.” The tliere, 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,, are taken without dis-tinction, 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 y the men can be brought off at any time, but the stores may
of the enemy, if matters grow desperate. ' This post is of no importance only in conjunction'with Mount Washington. I'was ever there the last evening, and the enemy seem to be disposing matters to besiege the place; but colonel- Magaw thinks it will "take them- tifl December expires before they can carry it. If the enemy do not find it an object of importance, 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;" v. [Nov. 12.] Within a few days gen. Washington crossed the "North-River with a part of his army, and stationed himself in the neighborhood of Fort Lee.. The troops left ai? Northtastie, under general Lee [Nov.-14.] were 7500 strong, including the 3000 militia of general Lincoln's division (whose time of service 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 regardedthe sacred cause in which they were engaged, to continue in their present posts a few days longer, till Thursday attbe 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 genera? 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 Fort Lee,' and^
had partly crossed the North-River, when he met generals Putnam: ; and Greene, who were just returning from thence, and inform-o: ed him that the troops were in high spirits, and would make a*. good defence; it being late at night, he returned. Now was n 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 wouldotherwise lose. But defence had been concluded upon. 3 [Nov. 16..] The royalarmy therefore make four attacks upon the * fort the next morning; while they are advancing, generals Washington, Putnam and Greene, and col. Knox, with their aids, having crossed the river, are making up to it. Some one or-o-o: , ther 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 lede. on by gen. Matthew, at the head of the first and second battalia: ons of light infantry, and two battalions of guards, supportedby lord Cornwallis with a body of grenadiers and the thirty-third.: regiment. These forces advance by the East-River, and landout of flat boats, by Haerlem Creek, upon the enemy’s right-st 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 nur 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 considerable 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 a 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 clambering up at very steep and rough mountain, when they soon disperse ther 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 s lines toward New-York; and two battalions of the second brigade are directed to support him. He advances his boats through