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LIfe of Washington
great to attempt to cross a river, when they must expect to meet a formidable opposition in front, and would have such a force as ours in the rear, They might possibly be successful, but the probability would be infinitely against them. Should they be imprudent enough to make the attempt, I shall keep close upon their heels, and will do every thing in my power to make the project fatal to them."
“But besides the argument in favour of their intending, in the first place, a stroke at this army, drawn from the policy of the measure, every appearance contributes to confirm the opinion. Had their design been for the Delaware, in the first instance, they would probably have made a secret, rapid march for it, and not have halted so as to awaken our attention, and give ys time to prepare for obstructing them. Instead of that, they have only advanced to a position necessary to facilitate an attack on our right, the part in which we are most exposed. In addition to this circumstance, they have come out as light as possible ; leaving all their baggage, provisions, boats, and bridges, at Brunswick. This plainly contradicts the idea of their intending to push for the Delaware.”
When the British army was collected at Brunswick, General Washington knowing that the high lands on the Hudson were not exposed while the enemy held that position, ordered a large detachment from Peck's Kill to Middlebrook, and he determined to defend himself in this post.
Finding that his opponent could not be maneuvred out of his fortified camp, the British commander drew back his troops to Staten Island, with the design to embark them for the Delaware or the Chesa peak.
While these manœuvres were displaying in New Jersey, intelligence was received, that General Burgoyne, with a powerful body of troops, was on the Lakes, approaching Ticonderoga. General Washington immediately forwarded large reinforcements to the northern army.
Soon after the British transports sailed out of the harbour of New York, an intercepted letter from General Howe to General Burgoyne was put into the hands of the Commander in Chief, which contained the information, that “he was exhibiting the appearance of moving to the southward, while his real intent was against Boston, from whence he would co-operate with the army of Canada.” General Washington viewing this letter as a finesse, paid no regard to it.
The policy of co-operating on the North river with the army of Canada, was so evident to the military mind of the General, that he conceived the movement of Howe to be a feint, designed to draw away the American army, that the British forces might suddenly ascend the Hudson, and seize the passes in the mountains; he therefore moved his troops to the neighbourhood of those heights, and there waited the issue of Sir Wil. liam’s maneuvre.
When the apprehension of a sudden attack upon the American works on the North river was removed, by the length of time Sir William Howe had been at sea, General Washington marched his army, by divisions, to places which he thought the most favourable to defend points the enemy might attack.
While waiting the evolution of the enemy's plan of the campaign, General Washington surveyed the ground in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, that he might be thoroughly acquainted with the probable scene of approaching military operations. On a critical examination of the fortifications on the Delaware, he advised Congress to confine the defence of the river to Mud Island and Red Bank, because the force for defence, collected at these points, would produce more effect than it could, divided upon different parts of the river.
The American army remained quietly in its position until the 21st of August. By this time General Washington apprehended that General Howe had proceeded to Charleston, South Caro- . lina, and he knew that the attempt to follow him to that place would be useless. He therefore resolved to move his army to the North river, to assail the enemy at New York, or to join the northern army and oppose Burgoyne. But on the very day on which orders to this purpose were issued, intelligence reached him that Sir William had entered the Chesapeak, and was approaching its head. He had spent more than twenty days in his passage, and on the 25th of August, landed without opposition at Turkey Point, in Maryland. His force ainounted to eighteen thousand men, abundantly furnished with eyery article of warfare,
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the 25th of
As soon as General Washington was apprized of the destination of the British General, he put his army in motion to meet him. He marched through Philadelphia, that a sight of his forces might make impressions on the minds of those citizens who were hostile to the American cause. The effective force of General Washington did not exceed eleven thousand men. The militia, on this occasion, turned out in considerable numbers, but the want of arms rendered the services of many of them useless.
On the 3d of September, the hostile armies approached each other. General Washington, not being in force to contend with his foe in the open field, could only harass his line of march, with light troops and cavalry, and pick up stragglers from his camp. As the royal troops advanced, Sir William manœuvred to gain the right wing of. the American arıny. General Washington, to counteract his design, continued to fall back, until he crossed the Brandywine river at Chadd's ford. Here he made a stand to dispute its passage by the British.
The opinion of Congress, and the general sentiment of the country, imposed on the General the necessity of hazarding a general action at this place, for the defence of Philadelphia.
Sept. 11.] Early in the morning, information was brought to the Commander in Chief, that the British army was advancing in the road to Chadd's ford, and he immediately prepared to dispute the passage of the river. By ten o'clock, the light troops were driven over the river to the main
body of the American army, and it was every moment expected that the German General Knyphausen would attempt to force a passage. About noon, intelligence was communicated to the General, that a large column of the enemy, with a number of field pieces, had marched up the country, and fallen into the road which crosses the Brandywine above its forks. .
Satisfied of the correctness of this intelligence, he detached the right wing of his army to attack the left of this column, as it marched down the north side of the Brandywine, intending himself, with the centre and left wing, to recross the river, and attack the division of the enemy at Chadd's ford. While issuing orders for the execution of this daring plan, the first intelligence was contradicted, and the general was informed, that the móvement of the column towards the forks was a feint, and that instead of crossing the river at that place, it had rejoined the German troops at Chadd's ford. Under the uncertainty, which this contradictory intelligence produced, the General prudently relinquished his design.
About two o'clock, it was ascertained that Sir William Howe in person had crossed the Brandywine at the forks, and was rapidly marching down the north side of the river, to attack the American army. The Commander in Chief now ordered General Sullivan to form the right wing to oppose the column of Sir William. General 7 a vae was. directed to remain at Chadd's ford with the left. wing, to dispute the passage of the river with knyphausen. General Green, with his division,