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Events of 1777 continued.Meeting of the two armies of Wash
ington and Howe on the Schuylkill-Battle prevented by a storm.Narrow escape of Hamilton and Leer-Unexpected loss of Monsieur de Coudray-General Wayne is surprised by the enemy, and suffers considerable loss.—Sir William Howe enters Philadelphia in triumph.—Congress repair to Yorktown.--Further powers granted to Washington.-Lord Howe enters the Delaware.-Battle of Germantown.-Retreat of the American army.—Sir William withdraws his troops from Germantown to Philadelphia.-Sir Henry Clinton's expedition up the Hudson. He reduces Forts Montgomery and Clinton.Northern army.-Dispute between General Gates and General Arnold.-The latter is excluded from command.-Battle of Behmus's Heights.-Retreat of Cornwallis.- Convention of Saratoga.
The situation of General Washington, after the battle of Brandywine, was nearly as critical as any in which he found himself placed during the war. If Sir William Howe, instead of halting for three days on the field of battle, as was the case, had pursued his advantages, he might easily have overtaken him at Chester, or by a forced march have reached Philadelphia before him. But here again the evil genius of Sir William proved the salvation of the American army, which after a short rest at Chester renewed their march towards the city. Having crossed the Schuylkill, Washington moved up the river to Swedlesford, where he recrossed it to meet the enemy, having intelligence that Sir William was ad. vancing towards the Upper Fords. On the 17th, the two armies met near the Warren Tavern on the
Lancaster road, and drew up in order of battle, The Americans were about to contend against a fearful odds, against troops much more numerous, better armed, and flushed with recent victory--but the elements conspired to forbid the contest : a tremendous storm came on, accompanied by torrents of rain, which continued to pour down until the next day. The van of each army had commenced the engagement, but it lasted only a few moments, for the deluge was too great for either party to contend against ; and they separated by mutual necessity. The next day, upon examination of the cartouch boxes and tumbrils of the American army, it was found that the ammunition was entirely destroyed by the wet ; and while General Washington was exerting himself to remedy this loss, Sir William crossed the Schuylkill, and pursued his route towards Philadelphia. In order to prevent a quantity of flour, stowed in some mills which lay in the route Sir William had taken, from falling into his hands, Washington thought proper to order its destruction; and his aidde-camp Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton was sent with Captain Henry Lee, and a small party of his dragoons, to accomplish that object. They were of course obliged to get in advance of the enemy, which was of itself a difficult and dangerous enterprise: the mills stood on the banks of the Schuylkill, at the foot of a long hill ; and in order to arrive at them, the party had to cross a bridge over the mill-race. They succeeded in getting before the enemy, and arriving at the top of this bill, they posted two videttes to give them notice of the enemy's approach, and proceeded to execute their instructions. There was fortunately a flat bottomed boat lying at the mills, of
which Colonel Hamilton secured the possession, with a view to escape, if it should be necessary, and he had scarcely done so, when the signal was given by the videttes of the enemy's approach. The Lieutenant Colonel and four of the dragoons instantly jumped into the boat, but before the last man had embarked, the enemy were seen in full speed pursuing the videttes down the hill. Captain Lee with the two other dragoons, determined to attempt to recross the bridge rather than detain the boat, as the delay would have rendered escape impossible. They put spurs to their horses therefore, and recrossed the bridge, within ten paces of the enemy's front sections, and under the full fire of their carbines and pistols; while another section flew to the river side, and poured several vollies into the boat, which though it had to struggle against a strong current, reached the opposite shore in safety. Each of these young officers was for some time ignorant of the other's fate, but fortunately they both regained their camp in safety.
In the last chapter, we had occasion to mention the proceedings of Congress relative to Monsieur du Condray, who had been made Inspector General of Ordnance, with the high rank of Major General. On the day that Washington recrossed the Schuylkill with a view to meet and give Sir William battle, a letterfrom Monsieur du Coudray was laid before Congress, in which he requested permission for himself and several others who had accompanied him from France to fight in the American army under their protection, that they might not subject themselves to a treatment different from that belonging to the character of prisoners of war, should fortune throw them into the hands of the enemy. He asked only the rank of Captain
for himself, and that of Lieutenants and Ensigns for the others. This request was immediately complied with, and on the 16th September, Monsieur du Coudray set out to join the army. He had to cross the Schuylkill in a flat bottomed boat, intó which, in all the ardour of anticipated glory, he jumped his fiery charger—the animal became unruly, du Coudray was unable to govern him, and he plunged with his rider into the flood. He dexterously disengaged himself from the saddle, but after much struggling, and many efforts on the part of his companions to save him, the gallant but unfortunate du Coudray sunk to rise no more. His memory was honoured by an especial vote of Congress, and his body was interred with the honours of war at the publick expense.
Washington on the 18th filed off with his army towards Reading, leaving General Wayne in the rear of the enemy. On the 19th it was determined in Council that the Commander in Chief with the main body of the army should cross the Schuylkill at Parker's ford, and endeavour to meet the enemy in front, and that General Greene, in conjunction with General Smallwood and Colonel Gist, both of the Maryland line, should endeavour to annoy the enemy's rear. In the mean time General Howe, receiving intelligence of Wayne's position in the rear of his left wing, detached General Grey, with two regiments and a body of light infantry, to surprise him on the night of the 20th-Wayne had with him a corps of 1500 men, with four pieces of artillery ; General Grey came up with his left, about one o'clock on the morning of the 21st. His approach was only suspected, from the circumstance of some of the American centinels being missed, when the guard officer went his rounds—the alarm
was immediately given, and in the hurry of the moment, General Wayne paraded them in front of their fires, thus exposing them to the full view of the enemy, who rushed upon them with their bayonets, and committed great execution, before Wayne had time to make a single maneuvre. Near 300 Americans were killed and wounded, and, about 80 made prison. ers, among whom were several officers. The Americans lost also a large quantity of arms, and eight wagons loaded with baggage and stores; while the enemy lost only 8 killed and wounded. As soon as it was possible for General Wayne to recover from the surprise into which he had been thrown, he was enabled by the darkness of the night to escape without further loss, and join the main army.
Sir William, in the mean time, having succeeded in his stratagem of drawing Washington to a distance from the city, very unexpectedly crossed the Schuylkill at Fatland ford, on the night of the 22d, and moved on without opposition to Philadelphia, which he entered in triumph on the 26th. He had previously detached several parties of Grenadiers, Light Infantry, and Chasseurs, to cross the various fords, and by this means. Washington was deceived with contradictory accounts of his movements, being nearly a day's march in his rear, at the moment he believed himself in a position to meet his front. The Congress had made their escape on the 18th and repaired to Lancaster, from which they again adjourned before the end of the month to Yorktown; having before their adjournment given still further powers to the Commander in Chief, by the following resolution : “ That General Washington be authorised and directed to suspend all officers who shall misbehave, and to fill up all ra