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CHAP. VI. their progress, but in some degree cover the 1776. country, and reanimate the people of Jersey.
A part of this short respite from laborious service was devoted to the predominant wish of his heart, that of preparing as far as possible for the next campaign, by impressing sufficiently on congress, a conviction of the real causes which had produced their present calamities. However the human mind may resist the clearest theoretic reasoning, it is impossible not to discern radical and obvious errors, while smarting under their destructive consequences. The abandonment of the army by whole regi. ments of the flying camp, in the face of an advancing and superior enemy; the impracticability of calling out the militia of Jersey and Pennsylvania in sufficient force to prevent the enemy from overrunning the first state and from entering the latter, had not other causes saved it; were practical lessons on the subjects of short inlistments, and a reliance on militia, which could not fail to add great weight to the remonstrances formerly made by the general on this subject, and which he now repeated.
The exertions of general Mifflin, who had been commissioned to raise the militia of Pennsylvania, though they made but very little impression on the state at large, were attended with some degree of success in Philadelphia. A large proportion of the inhabitants of that city, capable of bearing arms, had associated
for the defence of their country; and, on this CHAP. VIII. occasion, fifteen hundred of them marched to Trenton; and a German battalion was also ordered by congress to the same place. On receiving this re-enforcement, amounting to December 6. about two thousand men, general Washington commenced his march to Princeton; but before Seventh. he could reach that place, he received intelligence that lord Cornwallis, who had been strongly re-enforced, was now rapidly advancing from Brunswick by different routes, so as to get in his rear. A retreat, now again became indispensable, and it was absolutely necessary to pass the Delaware.
He crossed that river on the eighth of De- Eighth. cember; secured all the boats, broke down the General bridges on the roads leading along the Jersey melaware shore; and posted his army in such manner as to guard, as well as, was in his
the different fording places over which it was practicable for the enemy to pass. As the rear guard crossed the river, the van of the British army appeared in sight. Their main body took post at Trenton, and detachments were placed both above and below, so as to render entirely uncertain the place at which they might attempt to pass; while small parties, without any interruption from the people of the country, reconnoitred the Delaware for a considerable distance.
Some intelligence had been received, stating the enemy to have brought boats with them.
CHAP. Viu. Should this be the fact, the river was so com. 1776. pletely passable, as to render it impracticable,
without a force greatly exceeding that possessed by the American general, to prevent their crossing it. The course of the Delaware from Bordentown below Trenton turns west
ward, and forms an acute angle with its course Danger of
from Philadelphia to that place; so that the enemy might cross a considerable distance above, and be not much, if any further from the metropolis, than the American army.
In consequence of this state of things, the general advised that lines of defence should be drawn from the Schuylkill about the heights of Springatsbury, eastward to the Delaware, and general Putnam was ordered to superintend them; while general Miffin, who had just returned to camp, was again dispatched to Philadelphia to take charge of the numerous stores at that place.
The enemy made some ineffectual attempts, which were defeated by the vigilance of the Americans, to seize a number of boats guarded by lord Stirling about Coryell’s ferry; and, in order to facilitate their movements down the river on the Jersey shore, they repaired the bridges three or four miles below Trenton, which had been broken up by order of general Washington; after which, they advanced a strong detachment to Bordentown, so as to create the impression of crossing at the same
time above and below; and either proceeding, CHAP. VIII. in two columns, directly to Philadelphia, or completely enveloping the American army. To counteract this plan, and avoid being enclosed in the angle of the river at Trenton, the galleys were stationed so as to give the earliest notice of any movements below, and at the same time afford their aid in repelling any effort to cross the river; while he made such a disposition of his little army, as to guard against the execution of what he believed to be their real design which was to ford the Delaware above. Four brigades under the generals lord Stirling, Mercer, Stephens, and De Furnoy, were posted from Yardly's up to Coryell's ferry, in such manner, as to guard every suspicious part of the river, and to assist each other in case of an attack. General Irving with the remnant of the flying camp of Pennsylvania, engaged to serve until the first of January, and some Jersey militia under general Dickenson, were posted from Yardly's down to the ferry opposite Bordentown. Colonel Cadwallader, the brother of the gentleman taken in fort Washington, with the Pennsylvania militia, occupied the ground above and below the mouth of Nishaminy river, as far down as Dunks' ferry, at which place colonel Nixon was posted with the third Philadelphia battalion. The artillery was apportioned among the brigades, and small redoubts were thrown up at every place where
CHAP. VIII. it was possible to ford the river. Precise orders
were given to the commanding officer of each detachment, marking out as nearly as possible the conduct he should observe in the events which might happen, directing his route in case of being driven from his post, and the passes he should endeavour to defend on his way to the high grounds of Germantown, where the army was to rendezvous, if driven by the enemy from the river.
Having made this arrangement of his troops, he waited in the anxious hope of receiving reenforcements; and, in the mean time, watched every motion of the enemy with the utmost vigilance, used all the means he could devise to obtain intelligence, and sent out daily parties over the river to harass the enemy, to make prisoners, and to observe their situation.
The utmost exertions were made by the civil authority to raise the militia. Expresses were sent through the different counties of Pennsylvania, and to the governments of Dela. ware and Maryland, urging them to march, without delay, to join the army.
General Mimin was directed “to repair immediately to the neighbouring counties, and endeavour, by all the means in his power, to rouse and bring in the militia to the defence of Philadelphia.” Congress also declared “ that they deemed it of great importance to the general safety, that general Millin should make a progress through