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ed it upon the heights of Newcastle, about five miles from the White Flains, and secured the bridge oveCroton river.
General Howe deemed the new encampment too strong to be forced, and marched off his army to other operations.
The immediate object of General Howe Nov. 5. in leaving the White Plains, was to invest
Forts Washington and Lee. The posses sion of these fortresses would secure the free naviga tion of the North river, and facilitate the invasion of New-Jersey. The American Commander conformed his movements to those of his enemy. He ordered all che troops raiged on the west side of the Hudson to cross that river under the command of General Green, intending himself to cross. as soon as the plans of General Howe should be more fully disclosed. General Lee remained with the troops raised east of the Hudson, who was ordered to join Green's division, whenever the enemy should enter New Jersey. General Washington informing Congress of his new arrangements, observed," I cannot indulge the idea that General Howe, supposing him to be going to NewYork, means to close the campaign, and to sit down without attempting something more. I think it highly probable, and almost certain, that he will make a descent with a part of his troops into the Jerseys, and as soon as I am satisfied that the present maneuvre is real, and not a feint, I shall use all the means in my power to forward a part of our force to counteract his designs.
“I expect the enemy will bend their force against Fort Washington, and invest it immediately. From some advice, it is an object that will attract their ear. liest attention.”
He wrote to Governour Livingston, informing him of the movements of the enemy, and advising him to hold the niilitia in their full strength, in constant readi
ness to defend their country. He also urged him to remove or destroy the stock and provisions on the seacoast, lest these should fall into the hands of the British. He directed General Green to keep his eye on Mount Washington, to send off from his division all stores not of immediate necessity, and to establish his magazines at Princeton, or some distant place of safety.
While the British forces were marching to King's bridge, three ships of war sailed up the Hudson, without injury from the American batteries, or from the obstructions that had been sunk in the channel of the river. This fact convinced the General, that it was inexpedient longer to attempt the defence of Mount
Washington. He accordingly again wrote to Nov. 8. General Green, “ If we cannot prevent ves
sels from passing up, and the enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it answer to aitempt to hold a post, from which the expected benefit cannot be derived ? I am, therefore, inclined to think it will not be prudent to hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington ; but as you are on the spot, I leave it to you to give such orders respecting the evacuation of the place, as you may think most adviseable, and so far revoke the orders given Colonel Magaw to defend it to the last.” In the presumption, that the works were too strong to be carried by storm, and that regular approaches by artillery would give opportunity to draw off the garrison, when their circumstances should become desperate, General Green did not carry these discretionary or. ders into effect. He was induced to this delay, that he might, as long as possible, retain the passage of the river, and prevent the depression, which the evacuation of an important post might produce on the army and on the country.
General Howe being in readiness for the Nov. 15. assault, summoned the garrison to surrender.
Colonel Magaw, the commanding officer, in
spirited language, replied, that he should defend hie works to extremity. He immediately communicated the summons to General Green, and through him to the Commander in Chief, then at Hackensack. The General rode to Fort Lee, at which place he took boat, late at night, for Mount Washington; but, on the river, met Generals Putnam and Green returning from a visit to the garrison, who informed him that the men were in high spirits, and would make a brave defence, and he returned with them to Fort Lee.
On the succeeding morning the enemy made the assault in four separate divisions. The Hessians, commanded by General Knyphausen, moved down from King's bridge to attack the north side of the fort; they were gallantly opposed, and repeatedly repulsed by Colonel Rawlings's regiment of riflemen posted on a hill back of the works. Lord Percy, accompanied by General Howe, assaulted the works on the south · General Mathews crossed the North river, and landed within the second line of defence, while a considerable part of the garrison were in the first, fighting with Lord Percy. Colonel Cadwallader, the commander at this post, fearing an attack on his rear, retreated in confusion towards the fort ; but the fourth British column crossing the North river at this moment, within the lines, intercepted a part of Cadwallader's trocps, and made them prisoners. In the mean time, Knyphausen had overcome the obstinate resistance of Colonel Rawlings, and gained the summit of the hill. The whole garrison now entered the fort or retreated un.
der its guns.
The enemy having surmounted the outworks, again summoned the garrison to surrender. His ammunition being nearly expended, and his force incompetent to repel the numbers which were ready on every side to assail him, Colonel Magaw surrendered himself and his garrison, consisting of two thousand men, prisoners
The enemy lost in the assault about eight
hundred men, mostly Germans. Soon after the second summons, General WASHINGTON found means to send a billet to Colonel Magaw, requesting him to defend himself until the evening, and he would take measures to bring him off; but the situation of the garrison was tou desperate, and the negotiation had proceeded tuo far to make the attempt.
The conquest of Mount Washington made the evacuation of Fort Lee necessary.
Orders were therefore issued to remove the ammunition and stores in it; but before much progress had been made in this
business, Lord Cornwallis crossed the HulNov. 18. son with a number of battalions, with the
intention to enclose the garrison between the Hackensack and North rivers. This movement made a precipitate retreat indispensable, which was happily effected with little loss of men ; but a greater part of the artillery, stores, and baggage, was left for the enemy.
The loss at Mount Washington was heavy. The regiments captured in it were some of the best troops in the army. The tents, camp-kettles, and stores, lost at this place and at Fort Lee, could not during the campaign: be replaced, and for the want of them the men suffered extremely. This loss was unnecessarily gustained. Thosc posts ought, unquestionably, to have been evacuated before General Howe was in a situation to invest them. When the British General gained possession of the country above those positions, they became in a great degree useless to the Ameri
This opinion is clearly expressed in the letter of General Washington to General Green. The errour to be attributed to the Commander in Chief, consisted in submitting the measure of evacuation to the discretion of a subaltern officer, instead of abso. lutely directing it, in the exercise of powers vested in him. After the disastrous event had taken place, he possessed too much magnanimity to exculpate himself by criminating General Green.
The American force was daily diminished by the ex piration of the soldiers' term of enlistment, and by tho desertion of the militia.
When General Howe in force crossed into N: 29. New-Jersey, General Washington posted
the army under his immediate command, consisting of only three thousand men, along the llackensack; but was unable seriously to oppose the enemy in its passage. The country behind him was level; he was without entrenching tools, and without tents; his troops were miserably clothed, and the season was becoming inclement. The firm mind of Ge. neral Washington sunk not under these depressing circumstances. Although no bright prospect presented itself to his contemplation, yet he exerted himself to increase his effective force, and to make the best disposal of that under his direction. He ordered General Schuyler to send to his aid the troops, belonging to Pennsylvania and Jersey, which had been attached to the Northern army; but their term of service ex. pired before they reached his encampment, and they brought him no effectual support. He ordered General Lee to cross the Hudson, and join him with those of his troops, whose time of service was not expiring ; but General Lee loitered upon the East side of the river, and discovered an ardent inclination to retain a separate command in the rear of the enemy. WashIngton in repeated messages informed Lee, that his joining was of absolute necessity, that the people of Jersey expected security from the American army; and if disappointed, they would yield no support to a force, that did not protect them; and cautioned him to take his route so high in the country, as to avoid the danger of being intercepted by the enemy. These orders General Lee executed in a reluctant and tardy manner, and soon after he entered New Jersey, caro iessly taking his quarters for a night in a house three miles from his force, he was surprised and taken