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and uncertainty of the intelligence received. CHAP. 111. Had the main body of the enemy been at Chadd's 1777. ford, and that which took the circuit under lord Cornwallis been a small party detached to draw his attention and his force to a point where only a feint was designed, the loss of the day might have been occasioned by the very measures which a perfect knowledge of the real intentions of the enemy would have dictated. In such circumstances the general must be governed by his intelligence, and take his measures according to the information he receives. It is his duty to obtain correct information, and among the most important traits of a military character, is the skill to select those means which will obtain it. Yet, the best chosen means, are not always successful; and, in a new army where military talent has not yet been well tested by the standard of experience, the general is peculiarly exposed to the chance of employing not the best instruments. In a country covered with woods, too, precise information of the numbers composing different columns is with difficulty to be gained.

It has also been said, “ that the Americans do not appear to have made all the use that might be expected of the advantages which the country afforded for harassing and impeding the progress of the British army.”

Yet it is to be recollected that general Smallwood was directed, with the militia of Maryland

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CHAP. II. and Delaware, and some continental troops, to 1777. hang on the rear of the enemy and haràss them

as much as should be found practicable. That general Maxwell with a corps of light infantry, consisting of a thousand men, was ordered to take every occasion to annoy them on his march. That general Wayne with his division was afterwards detached to unite with Smallwood, and command the whole force collected in the rear which would have been very respectable.

If the militia did not assemble in the numbers expected, or effect the wished for service, their failure is not attributable to any defect of exertion on the part of general Washington, who had been early and energetic in his calls on them; nor did the state of his army admit ' of detaching from it additional numbers of his continental troops to supply the place they had been designed to fill.

General Maxwell was much complained of by his officers, and a court of inquiry sat upon his conduct, the result of which was his entire acquittal. Whether that officer omitted to seize the proper occasions to annoy the enemy, or the cautious and compact movements of general Howe afforded none, cannot be easily ascertained. General Washington felt the loss of Morgan, and wrote pressingly to Gates after his successes against Burgoyne, to restore to him, as soon as possible, that officer with his regiment of riflemen.

CHAPTER IV.

Measures taken to prevent a communication between the

British army in Philadelphia and their fleet....Royal army attacked at Germantown.... The Americans repulsed.... Measures taken by general Washington for cutting off supplies from Philadelphia....Attack upon fort Mifflin....Attack upon Red Bank....Colonel Donop killed, and his party repulsed with considerable loss.... The Augusta frigate blows up....General Washington takes post at White Marsh....Fort Mifflin evacuated, and possession taken by the British....Fort Mercer evacuated....A picket of the enemy attacked and driven in with loss.... The enemy succeed in opening a free communication with his fleet.... Attempt by general Dickenson to surprise Skinner's brigade.

IT

September.

communication between

and their fieot

having been at length determined no longer 1777. to oppose the entrance of the enemy into Phi- . ladelphia, the first attention of the American Measures general was immediately directed towards prevent a disabling sir William Howe from holding that the British place, by rendering the passage of the Dela. Philadelphia ware up to it impracticable.

With this design the Americans had erected works and batteries upon a flat, low, marshy island, or rather a bank of mud and sand, which had been accumulated in the Delaware near the junction of the Schuylkill, and which from its nature was called Mud, but from these defences, Fort island. On the opposite shore

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CHAP. IV. of New Jersey, at a place called Red Bank, they 1777. had also constructed a fort or redoubt, well

covered with heavy artillery. In the deep navigable channel, between, or under cover of these batteries, they had sunk several ranges of frames, or machines, to which, from the resemblance in construction, they had given the name of Chevaux-de-frize, being composed of transverse beams, firmly united, pointed in various directions and strongly headed with iron. These were of such a weight and strength and sunk in such a depth of water as rendered them equally difficult to be weighed or cut through, and destructive to any ship which had the misfortune of striking against them. No attempts for raising them, or for opening the channel in any manner, could, however, be made until the command of the shores on both sides was fully obtained.

About" three miles. lower down the river they had sunk other ranges of these machines, and were constructing for their protection some considerable and extensive works, which though not yet finished were in such forwardness as to be provided with artillery, and to command their object, at a place on the Jersey side called Billingsport. These works, and machines were further supported by several gallies mounting heavy cannon, together with two floating batteries, a number of armed vessels

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1777.

and small craft of various kinds, and some fire CHAP. IV. ships.

It had been impracticable for the commander in chief, to attend personally to these works, and they were entirely incomplete. The present relative situation of the armies gave them a decisive importance. If they could be maintained, they cut off the communication of general Howe with his fleet, and prevented his receiving supplies by water. The American vessels in the river above fort Miffin, the name given to the fort on Mud island, rendered it extremely difficult for him to forage in Jersey, or to draw any provisions from that state. General Washington with the continental army hoped to be able so to cut off his supplies on the side of Pennsylvania, as to compel him in a short time to evacuate Philadelphia.

In execution of this plan, the baron D'Arendt, a German officer of experience, was selected for the command of fort Mifflin; but he being disabled by sickness from engaging in this service, the command devolved on lieutenant colonel Samuel Smith of Maryland, who had been detached thither with between two and three hundred continental troops; and measures were taken to expedite, as much as possible, the march of the re-enforcements expected both from the north and south.

The advantages to be derived from this situation were considerably diminished by the

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