« ZurückWeiter »
A M f R I C A'ta R 2 V © L U T ION. 145
disposition and advanced in a direction toward the right *778, of the Americans.
This happened" while Lee was reconhoitrirtg* The American column to the left of him under gen. Scott, quitted the wood/crossed a morass, and formed in the plain field about a hundred yards in front of Maxwell; who expected an opportunity to form his brigade, by Scott's moving to the right as there Was a vacancy between the latter and the troops with Lee. These were at that moment moving to the right, and every step they gained came nearer to the royal forces, who were also pushing to the right of the Americans. Lee's discernment led him immediately to fend off one of his aids, with orders' to Scott, whom he supposed to be in the Wood On the other side of the morass, to halt his Column in the wood, and continue there till furriier order's: that there might be no possible misconception, another aid was speedily dispatched With similar orders. Before these COuld be delivered, Scott had mistaken the movements on his right for a retreat; and apprehended danger to his Own column in "case of its remaining where he Was, notwithstanding his detachment, and Maxwell's brigade with the other troops to the'left made still rwOthirds of Lee's whole command, and though the enemy appeared to bend their course from the left to the right of the Americans. Under such apprehension, Scott recrossed the morass, re-entered the wood, andVetreated'i Maxwell and the others did the like of course. When the first aid reached that part of the wood ,to which he had been directed, and found that Scott had marched off the ground, he rode back: while returning, he Triet the second aid, and acquainted him with what had taken
i778*pkce: upon their coming to Lee, and communicating their information, the general discovered much surprise, and expressed his disapprobation of Scott's conduct; in strong terms; but immediately upon the intelligence, directed a light horse officer to carry orders to the marquis de la Fayette to retreat to the Court-house. A general retreat now commenced on the right, till the troops reached Freehold and a neighbouring wood. When these were quitted, the British pursued as sar as the village, where they halted. Mean while the Americans marched on and passed the next morass in front of Carr's house, about half a mile from the village. The retreats and advances which took place were attended with cannonadings on each fide. The halt of the British, on account of the intense heat of the weather, and their having suffered severely from satigue, admitted of the Americans halting also for a considerable space, which heat and satigue had rendered equally necessary for them. But upon the advance of the British from Freehold, and Lee's discerning that the position he at first meant to occupy with the design of receiving the enemy and baffling their attack, was not suitable; the whole of of his command, Scott, Maxwell, and the others having now joined the corps which before formed the right, were ordered to retreat from the neighbourhood of Carr's house toward a wood and eminence behind the morals they had crossed in the morning, which had been pointed put to him as a desirable and proper spot. Before they had wholly left the ground about Carr's house, the British cavalry made a sudden and rapid charge upon some parties of the American horse, who were in the rear reconnoitring. It was expected they would have attempted
* a charge a charge on the whole rear, but they did not venture '77?. upon it. . . . 'i
Soon after Lee with his columns issued out of the woods below the Court-house into the plain, gen. Washington was advancing with the main body of the army between English-town and Freehold meeting. Expecting from the information brought him, that the van of Lee's command and the rear of the British would ere long engage, he ordered the right wing under gen.; Greene to go to the right to prevent the enemy's turning his right flank; and then prepared to follow with the left wing directly in Lee's rear to support him.' While this disposition was making, he learned, to his, great surprise, from a countryman, that the continental troops were retreating. Though the account was confirmed by two or three persons whom he met on the road, after moving a few paces forward, yet he appeared to discredit it, having .not heard any firing except a few cannon a considerable time before. He rode on, and between Freehold meeting and the morass, which he had just crossed, met the retreating troops marching toward the same, as Lee meant that they should re-pass it, and then occupy the ground behind it, where he proposed making a stand against the enemy. Washington was exceedingly alarmed at finding the advanced corps salling back upon the main body, without the least notice given him. He desired one of the retreating colonels to march his men over the morass, halt them on the eminence, and refresh them. Seeing Lee at the head os the next column, he rode up to ,him with a degree of astonishment and indignation, and proposed certain questions that implied censure. Lee felt it, and an
Vol. III. L swered
»779. swered with warmth and unsuitable language. Hard and I irritating words passed between them for a short space, I when Washington rode on toward the rear of the retreating troops. He had not gone many yards before he met his secretary, who told him that the British army were within fifteen minutes march of that place, which was the first intelligence he received of their pushing on; so briskly. He remained there till the extreme rear os the retreating troops got up, when looking about, and judging the ground to be an advantageous spot for giving the enemy the first check, he ordered col. Stewart's and lieut. col. Ramsay's battalions to form, and incline to their left, that they might be under cover of a corner of woods, and not be exposed to the enemy's cannon in front. Lee having been told by one of his aids, that Washington had taken the command, answered, "Then I have nothing further to do;" turned his horse, and rode after his excellency in front. Washington on his coming up asked, "Will you command on this ground or not? If you will, I will return to the main body, and have them formed upon the next height." Lee replied, ". It is equal with me where I command." Washington then told him, "I expect you will take proper measures for checking the enemy." Lee said, " Your orders shall be obeyed, and I will not be the first to leave the field." Washington then rode to the main army, which was formed with the utmost expedition on the eminence with the morass in front. Immediately upon his riding off, a warm cannonade commenced between the British and the American artillery on the right of Stewart and Ramsay; between whom and the advanced troops of the British army a heavy fire began soon after
in in the skirt of the woods before mentioned. The British I 7 7 8. pressed on close, their light horse charged upon the right of the Americans, and the latter were obliged to give way in such haste, that the British horse and infantry came out of the wood seemingly mixed with them. The action then commenced between the British and col. Livingston's regiment, together with Varnum's brigade, which had been drawn up by Lee's order, and lined the fence that stretched across the open field in front of the bridge over the morass, with the view of covering the retreat of the artillery, and the troops advanced with them. The artillery had timely retired to the rear of the fence, and from an eminence discharged several grapes of shot at the British, engaged with Livingston's and Varnum's troops; these were soon broken by a charge of the former and retired. The artillery were then ordered off. Prior to the commencement of the last action, Lee sent orders to col. Ogden, who had drawn up in the wood nearest the bridge, to defend that post to the last extremity, thereby to cover the retreat of the whole over the bridge. Lee was one of the last that' remained on the field, and brought off the rear of the / retreating troops. Upon his addressing gen. Washington' after passing the morass with—" Sir, here are my troops, how is it your pleasure that I should dispose of them?" —he was ordered to arrange them in the rear of English- •' town.