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two nations. One of the reasons assigned for the protest 1778, was, that the army and stores collected for the reduction of the island would be liable to be lost, by an opportunity's being given to the enemy to cut off the communication with the main, and totally to prevent the retreat of the army. The best apology that can be made for this protest is, that it was designed as a finesse to induce the captains of the French fleet to consent to its returning into the harbour of Newport. But it had not this effect, and met with a spirited answer from the count, who sailed on the same day for Boston. Sullivab was so chagrined at the departure of the fleet, that contrary to all sound policy, he gave out in general orders on the 24th—" The general cannot help lamenting the sudden and unexpected departure of the French fleet, as he finds it has a tendency to discourage some who placed great dependence upon the assistance of it, though he can by no means suppose the army or any part of it endangered by this movement. He yet hopes the event will prove America able to procure that by her own arms, which her allies refuse to assist in obtaining." Two days after, in new orders, he endeavoured to smooth off the reflection contained in it, by declaring he meant not to insinuate that the departure of the French fleet was owing to a fixt determination not to assist in the enterprise, and would not wish, to give the least colour to ungenerous and illiberal minds to make such unfair interpretations. Count d'Estaing, when arrived in Boston port, wrote to congress on the 26th, and in his letter mentioned—the embarrassments of the king's squadron as well on account of water as provisions, how' his hopes were deceived with regard to these two articles,
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I778- which were growing more and more important—that k was necessary for him to confine all his attention to the .preservation of the sqirdron, and restoring it to a condition to act—that he was no longer at liberty to depend on deceitful expectations of watering and getting provisions. He justified his repairing to Boston from the situation of his ships, the advices of a squadron from Europe, the ignorance of what was become of lord Howe's fleet, and the advantage that his lordship would have had for attacking him had he returned into Newport. He also expressed his displeasure at the protest.
It appears unreasonable to censure the count for repairing to Boston, when all his officers insisted so upon the measure; though had he returned into Newport, the garrison would most probably have capitulated before Howe could have succoured them. Upon the fleet's sailing for Boston, it was said—" There never was a prospect so favorable, blasted by such a shameful desertion." A universal clamor prevailed against the French nation: and letters were sent to Boston containing the most bitter invectives, tending to prejudice the inhabitants against d'Estaing and all his officers, to counteract which the cooler and more judicious part of the community employed their good services. Between two and three thousand volunteers returned in the course of 24 hours, and others continued to go off, and even many of the militia, so that in three days Sullivan's army was greatly decreased: it was soon little more in number than that of the enemy. An attempt to garry their works by storm, would have been too hazardous, had all the volunteers and militia remained, for the bulk of the troops had never been in action: the necessity of a retreat treat was therefore apparent (as soon as there was a cer- lll%* tainty of the French fleet's being gone) though in the morning of the 23d the Americans had opened batteries consisting in the whole of 17 pieces of heavy artillery, 2 ten inch mortars and three five and a half howitzers. Greene was against retreating hastily, lest the appearance of timidity and inferiority should bring out the enemy upon them: but he and Glover prepared for an expe-. ditious retreat, in cafe Clinton should arrive with a reinforcement, that so no damage might ensue from the delay. By the 26th all the spare heavy artillery and baggage was sent off the island; and on the 28th at night, between nine and ten o'clock, the army began to move to the north end. It had been that day resolved in a council of war, to remove thither, fortify the camp, secure a communication-with th.e main, and hold the' ground, till it could be known whether the French fleet' would soon return to their assistance. The marquis de^ la Fayette by request of the general officers, set off for; Boston to request their speedy return. The count Could ■ not consent to the return of the fleet, but rriade a spirited' offer of leading the troops under his command from Boston, and of co-operating against Rhode-Island. The march of Sullivan's-army was conducted with:great order and regularity, and the'troops arrived on their ground' about three in the morning," with all the baggage, stores, • &c. About seven, they were alarmed by a brisk fire -29. of musketry in their front, between their advanced corps of insantry and the enemy, who had pushed out after them upon discovering the retreat. • Sullivan aslced the' opinion of the generals upon the occasion, and Greene! advised to march and meet them, for he truly supposed'
177s;that they were come out in small detachments which might be cut to pieces; and further apprehended, that by advancing in force upon the western road, they might possibly head that part of the enemy which marched down upon the eastern, and so unexpectedly possess themselves of Newport. Had this measure been adopted, the Americans would probably have gained very great advantages, as the whole of the enemy's force on the western road consisted only of the Hessian chasseurs and the Anfpach regiments of Voit and Seaboth under gen. Lofsberg. On the east road was gen. Smith with the 22d and 43d regiments, and the flank companies of the 38th and 54th. To the latter were opposed col. Henry B. Livingston and his light troops; to the former lieut. col. Laurens with his. The enemy's superiority in numbers obliged each to give way, but a retreating fire was kept up with the greatest order. The advanced corps being reinforced, they gave the enemy a check, made a gallant resistance, and at length repulsed them. But the British commander sending reinforcements to both Lofsberg and Smith, the Americans were obliged to retire nigh to the front line of the main army, which was drawn up in order of battle. The British advanced very near to the American left, but were repulsed by Giover, and retired to Quaker-hill. The royal troops soon availed themselves of two heights on Sullivan's right; where they placed several pieces of artillery, and began about nine o'clock, a severe cannonade on a redoubt, an. advanced post on his right, which was returned with double force. Skirmishing continued between the advanced parties until near ten; when two British sloops* of war and other armed vessels, having gained his
right flank and began a fire, their associates on land I778? bent their force that way, endeavoured to turn Sullivan's right under cover of the ships, and to take his advanced redoubt; which brought on a warm and brisk fire of musketry between the contending parties, that was kept up by each side's throwing in reinforcements, till the action became in some degree general, and near 1200 Americans were engaged. The last of these that were sent forward, got up just in time to prevent the success of the enemy, who were making their third effort to take the redoubt: but they were broken, and retreated to the heights in great confusion, leaving on the field many of their killed and wounded. After the retreats .. . the field of batde could not be approached by either party, without being exposed to the cannon of the other army. The heat of the action was from two till near three o'clock in the afternoon. The firing of artillery 'continued through the day'; the musketry with intermission six hours. The Americans make their loss in killed 30, in wounded 132, and in missing 44. The British account makes their killed 38, wounded 210, and miffing 12. ' (j6n. Greene in a letter to the commander in chief said, "Our troops behaved with great spirit, and the brigade of militia under gen. Lovell, advanced with great resolution, and in good order, and stood the fire of the enemy with great firmness. Lieut, col. Living1lon, col. Jackson, and col. H. B. Livingston, did themselves great honor, in the transactions of the day, but it is hot in my power to do justice to col. Laurens, who acted both the general and partizan. His command df regular troops was small, but he did every thing possiblfc to be done by their numbers." The brigade yndsr gen.
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