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and put to flight the left, and were pressing on in his reai^ upon the camp at Brooklyn, instantly beat a retreat, and to cover this retreat, he charged the corps of Lord Cornwallis, with a small detachment of about 400 men; and such was the spirit of this intrepid commander, that he held Lord Cornwallis at bay, until the rest of his division had secured their retreat; when General Grant advancing into his rear, cut off his retreat, and compelled his little band of heroes to resign themselves up as prisoners of war, August 28th. Flushed with their successes, the enemythreatened to carry the American camp at Brooklyn by storm; but the prudence of the commander restrained the ardor of the troops, and they invested the camp in form, on the night of the 28th.
The Americans lost in killed, wounded, and taken, in this action, about three thousand men, including MajorGeneral Sullivan, Brigadiers Lord Sterling, and Woodhull. The enemy were, supposed to have lost about one third of that number.
General Washington passed the day in the camp at Brooklyn, on the 29th, and at night, by a most masterly movement, removed the whole encampment, both men, baggage, and artillery, except some very heavy cannon,' over into New-York, and at 9 o'clock in the morning, the fog cleared off,* and his movements were discovered by the enemy; but his rear guard was out of the reach of their fire. The enemy made a movement with their fleet to enter the river, and cut off this retreat, which was prevented entirely, by an unfavourable wind. On the 2d of September, Governor's-Island was evacuated by two regiments
of the Americans, with all their arms, stores, &c. except
, ( .
* Thi8 fog hovered over the armies on Lone-Island, when it was fair, and clear at New-York, and was considered as a very unusual evnit at that season of the year, and what had not occurred for more than thirty years before.
a few heavy cannon, within a quarter of a mile's distance of the enemy's shipping, with the loss of only one man's arm.
This was an eventful crisis in the American revolution, and the commander in chief saw that the fate of America was hazarded upon the issue of a battle, with a superior foe, and that under the most perilous circumstances. Impressed with the magnitude of the object, he passed two days, and two nights without sleep, or even rest, being the most of the time on horseback, and with his watchful eye superintending evey movement, and every event.
Many and severe comments have been made upon the perilous attempt of General Washington to defend NewYork, by risking a battle upon Long-Island; but it must be remembered by those who are acquainted with the facts, that the pressing solicitations of the citizens of NewYork, led the general to hazard more than his own better judgment considered prudent, for fear that the city of New-York, if abandoned without assistance, would abandon the American cause and join the enemy.
Flushed with the successes of Long-Island, Lord Howe dispatched General Sullivan, upon parole, with a verbal message to Congress, to announce the powers of the commissioners, and propose an interview by the way of a delegation from their body, in their private capacity, to treat for accommodation, and terms of peace. Congress rejected the overture; but delegated Messrs. Franklin, Adams, and Randolph, as a special committee, to confer with Lord Howe, upon Staten-Jsland, and learn his powers, and terms. They met his lordship, and executed their commission, and reported to Congress, that the powers of the commissioners did not amount to any thing more, than that of a court of enquiry, to hear, examine, and report to the minister, and consequently were of uo force, and thus this farce ended.'
The defeat upon Long-Island had wrought a complete change in the American army; the tire of Lexington, and Buuker's-Hill was then extinguished, by the disasters of Long-Island, and the militia deserted their colours, abandoned their general, and fled to their homes, in such numbers, as to threaten the dissolution of the army; and one fourth of those that remained were enrolled amongst the sick.
The enemy, elated with the successes of Long-Island, moved with,: a.diyision of their fleet up the East River, and threatened t©; cut off the retreat of the American army, which led the general to abandon New-York, and take post under cover of the forts; but the enemy landed in force from the fleet in the river, on the 15th of September, and General Washington retired.
On the 16th, a sharp skirmish commenced between detachments of the American and British armies, in which the Americans were decidedly successful, which inspired them with fresh courage, and resolution. On the 21st, more than 1100 houses were consumed by fire in the city of New-York, then equal to about one fourth of the city.
September 24th. Such was the fluctuating state of the American army at this time, that an officer of the first distinction thus expressed himself—" We are now upon the eve of another dissolution of the army, and unless some speedy , and effectual measures are adopted by Congress, our cause will be lost."
Under these embarrassing circumstances, General Howe attempted to cut off the retreat of General Washington, by landing a strong force in his rear. At this critical moment General Lee arrived in the American camp, and a reinforcement of 5 or 6000 Germans arri ved in New-York, to strengthen the enemy. General Washington called a council of war on the 16th of October, when it was resolved to abandon York Island, and retire towards WhitePlains, leaving a garrison in Fort Washington; to effect this, General Washington met the enemy with a firm front, whilst the sick, baggage, military stores, &c. were conveyed along his rear, and thus removed to a place of safety.'
On the 22d of October, General Howe was reinforced by one or two divisions of the German troops, and on the 25th, he commenced offensive operations, and marched towards White-Plains, to give the Americans battle. On the 28th a general skirmishing commenced between the advanced parties, and on the 29th General Howe, about 12,000 strong, advanced in columns, and commenced an attack upon the American camp at White-Plains, with an intent to bring on a general action; but finding the Americans strongly posted, he drew off his troops until his reinforcements could arrive. On the 31st General Howe, being reinforced, made his dispositions to attack the American camp again ; but General Washington withdrew in the night to the high grounds, and left a strong rear guard to cover White-Plains. This movement led General Howe to draw off his army, and retire towards Kingsbridge, November 5th, and General Washington sent discretionary orders to General Green to abandon Fort Lee, if he should judge proper; but General Green thought the post worth preserving, and chose to defend it. General Washington left a force of about 7 or 8000 strong with General Lee, at North-Castle, November 14th, and crossed North River to cover Fort Lee. The general called on Massachusetts for 4000 militia to support General Lee, whose troops were about to disband upon the expiration of their term of service.
On the 15th General Howe approached Fort Washington, and sent in his summons, and received the answer of a soldier who was faithful to his trust. General Washington received the news, and made his dispositions the ensuing night to withdraw the garrison; but was finally persuaded to risk an attack.
On the 16th General Howe ordered the fort to be invested upon all sides, with a strong force, and to be carried by storm; his orders were promptly executed, by the flower of the British army, in conjunction with the Germans, and the fort was carried, and a great part of the garrison butchered, while begging for mercy.
General Washington beheld the awful scene, and when he saw his brave men thus sacrificed by the cruelty of a barbarous foe, his soul was shocked at the horrid scene, and he wept with the feelings of a compassionate father. The shock was felt with the keenest sensibilities throughout the American army, and even General Lee wept with indignation at the news of the merciless butchery at Fort Washington, and cursed the unrelenting foe. Although the garrison at Fort Washington made a dignified defence, and caused the enemy to purchase it with such losses as rendered it a dear bought victory, yet he lost not a moment to pursue his victory, and on the 18th Lord Cornwallis made his dispositions to attack Fort Lee. General Green, who held the fort, upon the first intelligence of his lordship's movements, drew off the garrison, consisting of about 3000 men, and abandoned the fort to the enemy. General Green, with his garrison, joined General Washington, and on the 22d he retreated to Newark, where he found himself abandoned by the army, and left to the mercy of a victorious pursuing enemy, with only about 3500 men to accompany him in his flight. Struck with astonishment at the forlorn situation of the American cause, the general, with his brave companions, began to despair of success, and to talk of abandoning the cause of their wretched country, and retiring beyond the Alleghany Mountains. On the 28th General Washington retired to Brunswick, and Lord Cornwallis entered Newark with his