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i777*the major and his few brave companions quit, and crost to Red-bank *%
In this affair there were near two hundred and fifty of the garrison killed and wounded. Three councils of war had been called upon the subject of relieving Fort Mifflin; and in the last, it was concluded to attempt it, though it was believed that a general engagement would be the consequence: this however the Americans did not regard, the ground being such as they wished, if called to fight the enemy. The night before the attempt could be made, the fort was of necessity evacuated. The congress, before this event, had voted lieut. col. Smith an elegant sword for the gallant defence he had made on the 22d of October; but as they had voted at the same time, the like to commodore Hazlewood, commander
"^; of the naval force in the Delaware, he did not think himself much honored by it, and declined the present. Men of courage and judgment pronounce the commodore a poltron; and say that if all the officers in the marine department had behaved with equal bravery to what the land officers did, the fort would not have been taken. Several of them are reckoned to have acted a dastardly part. It was observed of Hazlewood, that he was fond of long shot, and was shy of coming to close quarters. The reduction of the fort secured to the British the safe opportunity of sending up their small craft, at the back of the island, to the Schuylkill with provisions and stores, by day as well as by night.
* See James M. Varnum's letter of August the second, 1786, in the Providence Gazette, who was the commanding general on the Jersey fide.
On the 18th at night, lord Cornwallis marched with i777*. a considerable force, and the next day crossed the Delaware, in his way to Red-bank, which the Americans abandoned, leaving behind them their artillery and a considerable quantity of cannon-ball. Some continental generals were appointed to give their opinion upon the spot to col. Greene. They savored an evacuation, and wished that he would join them. He answered, "I shall follow your direction either to evacuate or defend the sort. I know what we have done, when the works were not half completed. Now they are finished, and I am not afraid." But the direction was to evacuates which was complied with, though with manifest' reluctance. ThemarquisdelaFayetteacCompaniedgen. Greene into Jersey, though his wound was not yet healed; 'ancf N i on the 25 th of November, with only a handful of zj.* riflemen and militia, attacked a party of Hessians and British grenadiers, which he obliged to retreat. After this, congress resolved that he should take the command of a division in the army. -.
The American shipping having now lost all protection, several of the gallies and other armed vessels, took the advantage of a savorable night, kept close in with the Jersey shore, passed the batteries of Philadelphia, and escaped to places of security higher up. The remaining seventeen finding an escape impracticable, were abandoned by the crews and fired. The British however confesied, that the long and unexpected opposition which they received from Red-bank and Mud-ifland, broke in upon their plans for the remainder of the campaign.
,777. A detachment from the northern army, of some of the New England brigades, was ordered down to join the American commander in chief. When arrived at Fish-kill a number of the New Hams shire troops, to the amount of near 200, mutinied at the barracks on the evening of November the 4th, paraded with their arms, and began to march off in order. The exertions ef the officers suppressed them, but capt. Beall was shot and mortally wounded -, he killed however the soldier that sho.t him. The ay was, "We have no money, por breeches, and will not cross the river' till we have received these articles." It was feared that some officers were at the bottom of the mutiny. As it was soon quelled without infecting the other troops, the whole marched on, till they joined gen. Washington; who being thus reinforced, advanced to White Marsh, within 14 mijes of Philadelphia, and encamped in a strong position. Sir W. Howe, hoping that he meant to hazard a battle for the recovery of Philadelphia, or that some part of his camp was vulnerable, and would admit of Jj^. a successful impression, marched the army from the city 4. on the night of the 4th of December. The day before, gen. Greene gave this ..distressing picture of the American army to the commander in chief—" One half of v our troops are without breeches, shoes and stockings $ and some thousands without blankets. Last winter's campaign will confirm this truth, that unless men are well clothed, they must sall a sacrifice to the severity of the weather, when exposed to the hardships of a winter's campaign." Howe's further proceedings take in Washington's words, written on the 10th—" I had reason to
fxpect Howe was preparing to give us,a general action. 1777» Qn Friday morning his troops appeared on .Chesnuthill; at night they changed.their ground. On Sunday from every appearance, there was reason to apprehend an action. About sun set, after various marches and counter-marches, they halted, and I still supposed they would attack us in the night, or early the next mornjng, but in this I was mistaken. On Monday afternoon they filed off, and marched toward Philadelphia. Their loss in skirmishing was not inconsiderable. I sincerely wish they had made an attack, the issue would in all probability haye .been happy for us. Policy forbad our quitting our posts to attack them."
The American army marched from White Marsh tp u. Sweed's Ford. The want of clothing was so extreme, fhat gen. Washington was under the absolute rtecestjjy p( granting warrants to different officers to impress what the holders would not willingly part with, agreeable to the powers with which congress had invested him, tje removed with the troops, on the i.gth, to Valley-forge, where they hutted, about sixteen miks from Philadelphia. When the mode of hutfiag was first proposed, some treated the jdea as ridiculous, few thought it practicable, and all were surprised at the facility with w!»icji it was executed. - It was certainly a considerable exertion for the remnant of an army, exhausted and worn down, by the severity of a long and rather unsuccessful campaign, to sit down in a wood, and in the lm.tr end of December to begin to build themselves huts. Through the want of shoes and stockings, and the hard frozen ground, you might have tracked the army from White
j '777. Marsh to Valley-forge by the blood of their feet *. The taking of this position was highly requisite. Had the army retired to the towns in the interior parts of the state, a large tract of fertile country would have been exposed to ravage and ruin; and they must have distressed in a peculiar manner the virtuous citizens from Philadelphia, who had fled thither for refuge.
Sir W. Howe has plainly the advantage of the Ame- rican general, but nothing to boast of; for all the fruits 'derived from his various manceuvrings and engagements, ; from the, beginning to the close of the campaign, amount to little beside good winter quarters for his army in Philadelphia, while the troops possess no more of the adjacent country than what their arms immediately com. mand. Certain persons indeed are permitted to carry provisions into the city; that so upon their return they may supply the Americans with intelligence. These must submit to spare a little for such purposes, though in the utmost want themselves. At one time the army 'remained quiet four days together, without bread; on the fifth two regiments refused to do duty upon the account -, but the prudence and persuasion of the commander in chief restored order. To a similar event, P there was probably an allusion, in the following extract: 23. from his letter of the 2jd-'-" This brought forth the only commissary in the purchasing line in this camp, and with him this melancholy alarming truth, that he had not a single hoof of any kind to slaughter, and not more than twenty-five barrels of flour, and could not tell when to expect any.—The present commissaries are
* General Washington mentioned it to me, when at his table, June 3, 1784.