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off. The Augusta while' engaged took fire, and the *777* Merlin-was hastily evacuated. The greater part of the officers and crew of the Augusta were saved; bus the second lieutenant, chaplain, gunner, and no inconsiderable number of the common men perished. Notwithstanding this ill success, the' British commanders prosecuted with vigor the business of opening the navigation. Nor were the'Americans idle; for they left nothing undone to strengthen their defences.
General Washington gave the following state of his *9» arrriy,—." Our whole force by the last returns is 8313 Continental troops; and 2717 militia, rank and file, fit for duty: beside the garrison of Mud-island amounting to 300 Continentals, of Red-bank 350, and a detachment of militia (on the'26th to reinforce it) 300; and the troops oh the other side of Schuylkill 560, making together 1450." Thus it appears, that his whole strength was 12,480 men. Sir W. Howe's probably amounted to more' than 10,000 rank and file, present and sit for duty. It had received no increase worth mentioning from among the inhabitants of Pennsylvania or the neighbouring states; though large promises had been made (by some sanguine gentlemen who had joined him) that thousands of loyal subjects would repair'to the royal standard as soon' as it should make its appearance in Pennsylvania.^ The A merican commander in chief certainly supposed, that generalHowe's-force'exceeded his own in-mimber, for, on the 13th of November, he wrote,—"The army which I have had under my immediate command has slot, at any'onetime since ' gen. Howe's landing at the' head of Elk',' been equal vin point of numbers to his." In ascertaining this, T do n'dt'' confine' myself 'to" conti
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1777'ncntal troops, but comprehend militia. I was left to fight two battles, in order if possible to save Philadelphia, with less numbers than composed the army of my antagonist, whilst the world has given us at least double. This, though mortifying in some points of view, I have been obliged to encourage; because next to being strong, it is best to be thought so by the enemy, and to this . cause principally, I think, is to be attributed the flow movements of Howe." The cafe was different in the northern department. There the states of New York and New England resolving to crush Burgoyne, continued pouring in their troops till the surrender of his army. Had the fame spirit pervaded the people of Pennsylvania and the neighbouring states, Washington might, before the date of his letter, had Howe nearly in the same situation with Burgoyrte. The Pennsylvania militia were said to be 30,000, but about 3000 was the highest number brought into the field. In the estimation of some New England gentlemen, "the peasants of "that country are extremely ignorant and brutish. They - are a mixture of high and low Dutch, and so exceeding illiterate, that few os them can read, and scarce any can write. They have no other ideas of liberty or slavery, than as it affects their property; and it is immaterial to them, whether. Great Britain or America prevails, so that they may be exempted from paying their proportion of the expences of the war. Ignorance is the high road to slavery.*
While the British were entirely occupied in possessing
the city of Philadelphia, gen. Washington sent off lieut.
col. Samuel Smith of the Maryland line, with 200 men,
who were to proceed and possess themselves of Mud-island. By quick marches he arrived with his party at the lower 1777. ferry, and with difficulty threw himself into the fort, which he found in a wretched condition, without ammunition, provision or stores, garrisoned by about thirty militia. He had with .him two excellent officers of artillery, »to whom he assigned fifty of his best men, who were trained to the guns. . The colonel, with commodore Hazlewood and capt. Robinson, a brave naval officer, visited Province-island, principally under water, the banks having been cut by order. The colonel pointed out two dry places, where the enemy might erect works, the nearest about 4 or 500 yards from that fide of the American works where the defences were only palisades, one gun and two weak block-houses, With great labor he undertook to erect a two gun battery without the fort, so as to make a cross fire on the spot. He had not finished, before the enemy took possession of the ground he most dreaded; but by a well directed fire from the block-house batteries and gallies, ere they had a gun ready, the Americans wounded the commander, and the party delivered themselves up prisoners. While these were removing, another party came down from the heights, and deceiving major Ballard with offers of submission, till too near to be prevented, repossessed themselves of the battery, from whence they annoyed the garrison very much. Many of the men and officers having sickened through the unhealthiness of the place, the colonel was reinforced by the first Virginia regiment of about 120 men. The enemy having got up part of the chevaux de Frize, brought in their shipping, and made an attack as above related. One American squadron of four gallies behaved well, the others kept aloof, the
*777* commodore being ar. the distance .of more than a mife. Tshe British, after that unsuccessful attack, applied themr selves to the strengthening of their batteries on shore, .and nightly sent up their boats with provision to the city, by the passage between Mud and Province islands, while the commodore absolutely refused attempting to prevent them, upon the plea that a single bomb from the enemy would destroy any of his gallies. There came three or four days of uncommon high tides, which drowned some of the British, and hindered their working any of their guns, except one howitzer. This opportunity of anr fioying them considerably, was not duly improved by the gallies. On the decrease of the tides, the Britislj renewed their fire with double vigor, and soon destroyed^ the American two gun battery, blew up the iTprth-west block-house and laboratory, and compelled the garrison $o seek cover in the fort. Col. Smith, after having defended it from the latter end of September, till theHth of November, a few days excepted, was wounded by a spent cannon shot, and greatly bruised by the bricks it threw on him, which occasioned his removal to the main. His fatigues and dangers had been . extreme i and he supported them with uncommon patience and fortitude. Upon his removal the command devolved, on lieut. col, Russel of the Connecticut line, but hg being exhausted with fatigue, and totally destitute pf health, requested to be recalled. Upon the 12th, the, commander jn chief signified his orders to the commanding genera} on the Jersey side,' who directed all die military operations below Philadelphia, "to defends JjvJud-isiancJ, as long as possible, wkhout sacrificing thq garrison," The commanding general, for insuperable
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seasons, could not detach an officer in rotation. Major '777* Thayer, of the Rhode Island line, presented himself a volunteer, and was appointed. »
The British having every thing in readiness, the Isis and Somerset men of war pass up the east channel to at* sack the works on Mud-island, in front; several frigates draw up against an American fort newly erected on the Jersey side, situated so as to flank the men of war in their station'; and two armed vessels, the Vigilant, an East Indiaman cut down to a battery of 20 twenty-four pounders on one side, and a hulk with 3 twenty-four pounders, successfully make their way through a narrow channel on the western side, a matter of the greatest importance, as these two vessels, in concert with the batteries on Province-island, enfilade the principal works „ on Mud-island. On the morning of the 15th, the whole 1 ^ British fire is displayed from their land batteries, and their shipping in the river. The small garrison of 300 men sustain and repel the shock with astonishing intre* pidity, for several hours, assisted by the American gaK lies and the batteries on the Jersey shore. By the mid* die of the day their defences are levelled with the common mud, and the officers and men expect each other's fate, in the midst of carnage. During the day more than 1030 discharges of cannon, from thirty-two to twelve pounders, are made in twenty minutes, from the batteries and shipping of both sides, Early in the everts ing, major Thayer fends all his garrison ashore, except^ ing forty, with whom he remains, braving all danger. At twelve at night, many of the military stores having been previously sent away, the barracks are fired, when
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