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was thought to be between four and five hundred. The *778*" ground being open was by no means advantageous to the Americans, as the British cavalry could have turned their flank. Would then an immediate attack under
these circumstances, though it might have distressed the enemy's rear at the first onset, have been advisable, as it might probably have involved a general action before the detachment could have received support? Did not prudence dictate falling back and taking a new position, rather than hazarding an action in the plain? If Lee's judgment determined for the affirmative, how could he be declared guilty of disobeying orders? The circumstances already noted are in favor of the retreat's being necessary in the first instance: and when commenced, the prosecution of it was absolutely necessary till a good position could be taken for making an effectual stand against the enemy, to which position Lee was marching when met by Washington. The strenuous efforts of the British after the main army was drawn up in that position, before they retired three miles from the scene of action, tend also to justify the commencement of the retreat. No mention should have been made of its being in a few instances disorderly, unless such instances were really chargeable to Lee's misconduct; whereas of these few it is certain, that some were owing to satigue and the enormous heat of the weather. The very sentence of the court martial is in favor of Lee's innocence as to the two first charges, for a year's suspension from command is in no wife proportioned to his crimes if guilty."—Several are of opinion he would not have been condemned on these two, had it not been for his disrespectful conduct toward Washington. On the other i' hand,
1778- hand, some have surmised, that his manœuvres were owing either to treachery or want of courage; but they who have the opportunity of knowing him most, will be furthest from such apprehensions *.
No sooner had Sir Henry Clinton with the army evacuated Philadelphia, than lord Howe prepared to sail with the fleet for New York. Repeated calms retarded his passage down the Delaware, so that he could not quic the river till the evening of June the 28th • however he anchored off Sandy Hook the next day, followed by the transports. The succeeding day Sir Henry arrived, and the artillery, baggage, and part of the troops were rejujy moved from the main, as the weather permitted; the 5. rest of the army passed, on the 5th of July, over a bridge of boats across a narrow channel to Sandy Hook; They were afterward carried up to New York. On the 7th, lord Howe received advice that the Toulon squadron was arrived on the coast of Virginia. Count d'Estaing anchored at night on the 8th at the entrance of the Delaware, after being 87 days at sea: On that day the count wrote to congress: on the receipt of his letter, they sent word to gen. Washington, that it was their desire he would co-operate with the count, in the execution of such offensive operations as they should mutually approve. The same day the congress resolved; that a suitable house should be provided for Monsieur Gerard, and chose a committee of five to wait on him upon his arrival, and conduct him to his lodgings. The next morning d'Estaing weighed and sailed toward the W** Hook, and in the evening of the nth anchored with- "* out it. Had not bad weather and unexpected impediments prevented, the count must have surprised Howe's fleet in the Delaware, as the latter would not have had time to escape after being apprized of his danger. The destruction of the fleet must have been the consequence of such surprisal; and that must have occasioned the inevitable loss of the royal army, which would have been sb enclosed by the French squadron on the one side, and the American forces on the other, that the Saratoga catastrophe must have been repeated. This fatal stroke would have been of an amount and magnitude (with respect to both the marine and land service, and the consequences hanging upon it) not,easily to be conceived. The prevention of it, by the various hinderances that d'Estaing met with on his voyage, ought to be considered by Great Britain as a signally providential deliverance.
* In compiling several of the preceding pages, recourse has been had to the public letters of Sir Henry Clinton and gen. Washington*, so various private letters and information, and to gen'. Lee's trial.'
Lord Howe's fleet consisted only of six 64 gun ships, three of 50, and two of 40, with some frigates and sloops. Count d'Estaing had twelve ships of the line; several of which were of great force and weight of metal, one carrying 90, another 80, and six 74 guns each; he had beside present with him, three of the four large stout frigates, that had attended him on his voyage. He anchored on the Jersey side, about four miles without the Hook; and American pilots of the first abilities, provided for the purpose, went on board the fleet: among them were persons whose circumstances placed them above the rank of common pilots. Lord Howe had the advantage of possessing the harbour formed
1778.by Sandy Hook; the entrance os which is covered by a bar, and from whence the inlet passes to New York. As it could not be known whether the French would not attempt passing in force over the bar, it was necessary that the British should be prepared to oppose them. On this occasion, a spirit displayed itself not only in the fleet and army, but through every order and denomination of seamen, that is not often equalled. The crews of the transports hastened with eagerness to the fleet, that it might be completely manned: masters and mates solicited employment, and took their stations at the guns; with the common sailors: the light insantry, grenadiers, and even wounded officers so contended to serve as ma- rines on board the men of war, that the point of honor, was obliged to be decided by lot. In a word, the patriotism, zeal, bravery and magnanimity which appeared at; this juncture, was a credit even to Great Britain. .. |t' must however be acknowledged, that the popularity ot lord Howe, and the confidence founded on his abilities; contributed not a little to these exertions. But the American pilots declaring it impossible to cany the Large ships of d'Estaing's squadron over the bar into the Hook, on account of their draught os water, and [uly gen- Washington pressing him to sail to Newport, he '-** left the Hook after eleven days tarriance, and in a few hours was out of sight. Nothing could be more pro-. vidential. While he remained, about twenty sail of. vessels bound to New York fell into his possession; they wiqF&chiefly prizes taken from the Americans: but had he-stayed a few .days-longer, admiral Byron's fleet must ha-ve^ sallen a defenceless.prey,-into-his hands.- That squadron had met with,unusual bad weather; and being. -.; separated
separated'in different storms, and lingering through a j^a* tedious passage, arrived, scattered, broken, sickly, dismasted, or otherwise damaged, in various degrees of distress, upon different and remote parts of the American coast. Between the departure of d'Estaing" and the 30th of July, the Renown of 50 guns from the West 30* Indies, the Raifoftable and Centurion of 64 and 50 from Halisax, and the Cornwall of 74 guns, all arrived singly at Sandy Hook. By his speedy. departure a number t£ . provision ships from Cork escaped also, together with their convoy. They went up. the Delaware within fifty miles of Philadelphia- after lord Howe had quitted the river, not haying obtained any information of what had happened. The.British ministry had neglected countermanding their destination, though orders for the evacuation of Philadelphia had been sent off so early, as to have admitted of their receiving fresh directions where to have steered before sailing. Great rejoicings were -made at New York upon their safe arrival, especially as provisions were much wanted by both the fleet and army.
As the bar prevented all .attempts on the part of d'Estaing against Howe's fleet within the Hook, a plan was concerted for attacking Rhode Island; and gen. Sullivan, who commanded at Providence, was employed in assembling an additional body of. New England militia. Such was the eagerness of people to co-operate with their new allies, and their confidence of succeeding and reaping laurels, that some thousands of volunteers, gen^ tlemen and others from Boston, Salem, Newbury Port, Portsmouth, &c. engaged in the service. When d'Estaing was arrived off point Judith on the 29th, the