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a small garrison under the command of a Captain was placed in Verplank.
Sir Henry Clinton, on the last of May, moved wiii the greater part of his force up the river towards these posts. On his approach Stony Point was evacuated ; but the celerity of his movements obliged the garrison at Verplank to surrender themselves prisoners of war. The possession of King's ferry could not have been the sole object of Sir Henry's movement, his force was much greater than this purpose required. The possession of West Point was probably the ultimate design of the expedition ; but the excellent disposition of the American troops defeated this intention of the British Commander. Having fortified the positions of Stony Point and Verplank, and placed garrisons in them, Sir Henry returned with his army to New-York.
The Americans were subjected to great inconvenience by the loss of King's ferry. To pass the North river, they were obliged to take a route by the way of Fish Kill, through a rough and mountainous country, and the transportation of heavy articles for the army by this circuitous road became very tedious.
General WASHINGTon was induced by a variety of motives to attempt the recovery of Stony and Verplank Points. The very attempt would recall the Bri. tish detachments that were out on predatory expedi. tions. Success in the plan would give reputation to the American arms, reconcile the publick mind to the plan of the campaign, and restore to the Americans the convenient road across King's ferry. In pursu ance of this intention, he reconnoitred the posts and, as far as possible, gained information of the situation of the works, and of the strength of the garrisons. The result was a plan to carry the posts by storm. The assault upon Stony Point was committed to General Wayne, and that no alarm might be given, his force was to consist only of the light infantry of the army, which corps was already on the lines. The
night of the 13th of July was assigned for the attack. The works were strong, and could be approached only by a narrow passage over a piece of marshy ground, and tho garrison consisted of six hundred men. About midnight the troops moved up to the works through a heavy fire of artillery and musketry, and without the discharge of a single gun, carried them at the point of the bayonet. The Americans, on this occasion, displayed their usual humanity; they put not an individual to the sword after resistance ceased.
The loss of the Americans in the assault was incon. siderable, compared with the nature of the service. Their killed and wounded did not exceed one hundred
General Wayne received a wound on the head, which, for a short time stunned him ; but he insisted upon entering the fort, which by the support of his aids he accomplished. Sixty-three of the garrison were killed and sixty-eight wounded, and five hundred and forty-three made prisoners. Military stores to some amount were found in the fort.
General Howe was entrusted with the execution of the design against Verplank; but through a number of unfortunate incidents, to which military operations are always liable, it miscarried.
Stony Point alone did not give the Americans the use of King's ferry. Sir Henry Clinton immediately moved up the North river with a large force to recover the post, and General WASHINGTON, not thinking it expedient to take from his army the number of troops nccessary to garrison it, destroyed the works and retired to the High Lands. General Clinton erected the fort anew, with superiour fortifications, and placed a respectable garrison in it, under the command of a Brigadier General.
Congress embraced this occasion, by an unanimous resolve, to thank Goneral WASHINGTON for the wisdom, vigilance, and magnanimity, with which he conducted the military operations of the nation, and par
ticularly for the enterprise upon Stony Point. They also unanimously voted their thanks to General Wayne for his brave and soldier-like attack, and presented him with a gold medal emblematical of the action; and they highly commended the coolness, discipline, and persevering bravery of the officers and men in the spirited assault.
During this summer, Spain joined France in the war against England. General Washington expect. ing substantial aid from these powers, and unwilling to waste any part of his small force in partial actions, contented himself with the defence of the country from the depredations of the enemy, that he might be in readiness with the greatest possible numbers, to cooperate with the allies of America in an attack upon the British posts. But the fond hope of effective aid from France proved delusive ; and the expectation that the war would this season terminate, failed.
Effectual measures were not yet adopted by Congress to establish a permanent army. The officers generally remained in service, but a great proportion of the privates were annually to be recruited. By the delays of the general and state governments, the recruits were never seasonably brought into the field. At different periods they joined the army; and frequently men totally unacquainted with every branch of military service, were introduced in the most criti. cal part of an active campaign.
At the close of this year, General WASHINGTON, not discouraged by all his former unavailing endeavours, once more addressed Congress on this subject, which he deemed essential to the welfare of the unicui In October he forwarded to that body a minute ropc:1 of the state of the army, by which it appeared, that between that time and the last of June the next year, the time of service of one half the privates would expire.
With the report he submitted a plan, by which the
recruits of all tle states were to be raised and brought to head quarters by the middle of January of each year, that time might be given in some measure to dis cipline them before the campaign opened.
" “ The plan I would propose,” says the General in the address,“ is that each state be informed by Congress annually of the real deficiency of its troops, and called upon to make it up, or such less specifick number as Congress may think proper, by a draught. That the men draughted join the army by the first of January the succeeding year. That from the time the draughts join the army, the officers of the states from which they come, be authorized and directed to use their endeavours to enlist them for the war, under the bounties granted to the officers themselves and the recruits, by the act of the 23d of January last, viz. ten dollars to the officer for each recruit, and two hundred to the recruits themselves. That all state, county, and town bounties to draughts, if practicable, be entirely abolished, on account of the uneasiness and disorders they create among the soldiery, the desertions they produce, and for other reasons which will readily occur. That on or before the first of October annually, an abstract, or return, similar to the present one, be transmitted to Congress, to enable them to make their requisitions to each state with certainty and precision. This I would propose as a general plan to be pursued; and I am persuaded that this or one nearly similar to it, will be found the best now in our power, as it will bo atiended with least expense to the publick, will place the service on the footing of order and certainty, and will be the only one that can advance the general interest to any great extent.”
This j'ıdicious plan was never carried into effect. Congress did not make the requisition until February, and the states were not called upon to bring their recruits into the field before the first of April. Thirteen sovereign states exercising their respective independ
ent authorities to form a federal army, were always tardy in time and deficient in the number of men.
On the approach of the inclement season, the army again built themselves huts for winter quarters. Posi. tions were chosen the most favourable for the defence of the American posts, and for covering the country: The army was formed into two divisions. One of these erected huts near West Point, and the other at Morristown in New-Jersey. The head quarters of the Commander in Chief were with the last division.
Great distress was felt this winter on account of the deranged state of the American finances. General Green and Colonel Wadsworth, gentlemen in every respect qualified for the duties of their respective sta. tions, were yet at the head of the Quarter Master and Commissary departments, but the credit of the country was fallen, they had not the means to make prompt payment for articles of supply; and they found it impossible to lay up large magazines of provisions, and extremely difficult to obtain supplies to satisfy the temporary wants of the army.
The evil was increased by a new arrangement introduced by Congress into the Conimissary department. A fixed salary in the depreciated currency of the country was given to the Commissary Gen and he was authorized to appoint a certain number of deputies, whose stipends were also established, and to whom no emolument of office was allowed. Deputies competent to the business could not be obtained upon the terms established by Congress, confusion and derangement ensued through the whole department, and in consequence Colonel Wadsworth was constrained to resign his office.
Before the month of January expired, the soldiers were put upon allowance, and before its close, the whole stock of provision in store was exhausted, and there was neither meat nor flour to be distributed to the tronps. To prevent the dissolution of the army Vol 1