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commissioners. He apprehended, that their atteapts et nogotiation were calculated only to divide and weaken the continent; and he feared, that their measures would operate to relax the exertions of the United States to meet the conflicts of the field. In a private letter to a confidential friend, as early as May, he la. mented the effects of this nature, which had actually been produced. “Many members of Congress,” te wrote,“in short the representatives of whole provinces, are still feeding themselves on the dainty food of recon. ciliation; and although they will not allow that the expectation of it has any influence on their judgments, sv far as respects preparations for defence, it is but Loo obvious that it has an operation upon every part of their conduct, and is a clog upon all their proceedings. It is not in the nature of things to be otherwise ; for no man who entertains a hope of seeing this dispute speedily and equitably adjusted by commissioners, will go to the same expense, and incur the same hazards, to prepare for the worst event, that he will who believes that he must conquer or submit unconditionally, and take the consequences, such as confiscation and hanging."
General Howe commanded a force of twen. Aug. 8. ty-four thousand men, well disciplined, and
abundantly supplied with every thing necessary to take the field; he daily expected to be reinforced by a second detachment of German troups; and he was supported by a fleet judiciously fitted to its destined service. To oppose this formidable enemy, General WASHINGTON had under his direction seventeen thousand two hundred and twenty-five men; of these three thousand six hundred and sixty-eight wero in the hospital. His effective force was disposed in New-York, on Long and Governour's Islands, and at Paulus Hook; and he informed Congress, that in case of an attack, he could promise himself only the addition of one smal battalion. Some of the posts occupied by the army were fifteen miles distant from others, and Vol. I.
navigable waters intervened.
“ These things,” observed the General,“ are melancholy, but they are nevertheless true. · I hope for better. Under every disadvantage, my utmost exertions shall be employed, to bring about the great end we have in view; and so far as I can judge from the professions and apparent disposition of my troops, I shall have their support. The superiority of the enemy, and the expected attack do not seem to have depressed their spirits. These considerations lead me to think, that though the appeal may not terminate so happily as I could wish, yet the enemy will not succeed in their views without considerable loss. Any advantage they may gain, will, I trust, cost them dear."
Before serious hostilities commenced, the American army was reinforced by several regiments of permanent troops, and by detachments of militia, which made the whole number amount to twenty-seven thousand ; but the men were not accustomed to the life of the camp ; they were much exposed from the want of tents, and one quarter of the whole army were taken from duty by sickness.
While waiting the tardy movements of the enemy, General Washington, apprised of the impressions that would be made by the event of the first encounter, exerted himself to the utmost to bring his inexperienced troops under subordination, and to excite in them military ardcur, without which he could have no hope of successful warfare. In general orders, he called upon officers to be cool in action, and upon the soldiery to be obedient to orders, and to be firm and courageous. He directed, that any soldier, who deserted his ranks in time of battle, should be immediately shot down. He desired commanders of corps to report to him every instance of distingi ished bravery in the soldiery, with promise of reward. He endeavoured, by the love of liberty, of country, and of posterity, to animate his army to do their duty. “ The time,” he observed,
“is now at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves , whether they are to have any property they can call their own; wliether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness, from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have to resolve to conquer, or to die. Our own, our country's honour call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely on the goodness of our cause, and on the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hand victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessing and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and show the whole world, that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superiour to any slavish mercenary on earth.”
In the communication to his army of the JULY 21 success of the Americans at Fort Moultrie,
near Charleston, he thus laboured to excite them to emulate the bravery of their countrymen in South Carolina.
“ This glorious example of our troops, under he like circumstances with ourselves, the General hopes, will animate every officer and soldier to imitate, and even to outdo them, when the enemy shall make the sane attempt on us. With such a bright example befure us, of what can be done by brave men, fighting in defence of their country, we shall be loaded with a double share of share and infamy, if we do not acquit
ourselves with courage, and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die. With the hope and confidence that this army will have an equal share of honour and success, the General most earnestly uxo horts every officer and soldier to pay the utmost attention to his arms and health ; to have the former in the best order for action, and by cleanliness and care to preserve the latter; tú be exact in their discipline, obedient to their superiours, and vigilant on duty. With such preparations and a suitable spirit, there can be no doubt but, by the blessing of heaven, w3 shall repel our cruel invaders, preserve our country, and gain the greatest honour.”
In the immediate view of the arduous conflict, the General once more endeavoured to inspire his army with the heroism necessary successfully to sustain it.
“ The enemy's whole reinforcement is now arrived," said he, “ so that an attack must, and soon will be made. The General therefore again repeats his earnest request, that every officer and soldier will have his arms and ammunition in good order; keep within his quarters and encampment, as much as possible ; be ready for action at a moment's call; and when called to it, remember, that liberty, property, life, and honour are all at stake; that upon their courage and conduct, rest the hopes of their bleeding and insulted country ; that their wives, children, and parents, expect safety from them alone; and that we have every reason to believe that heaven will crown with success so just a
“ The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by show and appearance; but remember, they have been re pulsed on various occasions, by a few brave Americans. Their cause is bad ; their men are conscious of it; and if opposed with firmness and coolness on their first onset, with our advantage of works, and knowledge of the ground, the victory most assuredly is ours. Every good soldier will be silent and atteutive, wait
for orders, and reserve his fire until he is sure of doing execution; of this the officers are to be particularly careful.”
The possession of Long Isiand is essential to the defence of New-York. It had been determined in a Council of war, to fortify a camp at Brooklyn, fronting New-York; and stretching across that end of Long Island, from East river to Gowan's covė. The rear of thisencampment was defended by batteries on Red Hook and Governour's Island, and by works on East River, which secured the communication with the city. In front of the encampment, ran a range of hills from east to west across the island. These were covered with wood, and were steep, but could any where be. ascended by infantry. Over this range were three passes, leading by three roads to Brooklyn ferry.
A strong detachment of the American army was posted on Long Island, under the command of General Greene, who made himself intimately acquainted with the passes on the hills; but unfortunately becoming sick, General Sullivan succeeded him in this command only a few days before active operations commenced. The main body of the Americar, army remained on York Island. A flying camp, composed of militia, was formed at Amboy, to prevent the depredations of the enemy in New-Jersey; and a force was stationed near New Rochelle, and at East and West Chester on the Sound, to check the progress of the enemy, should they attempt to land above King's bridge, and enclose the Americans on York Island. The head quarters of General WASHINGTON were in the city, but he was daily over at Brooklyn to inspect the state of that camp, and to make the best arrangements circumstances wou'd admit.
An immediate attack being expected on Long Island, General Sullivan was reinforced, and directed carefully to watch the passes.
On the 26th the main body of the British troops