« AnteriorContinuar »
enemy extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, which constituted their defence in front. The sound mind of General WASHINGton was not so much dazzled by a prospect of the brilliance and faine which the success of this enterprise would throw around himself, and his army, as to engage in the desperate attempt. Nor was he disposed to sacrifice the safety of his country, upon the altar of publick opinion. He gave the following reasons for rejecting the plan ; that the army in Philadelphia was in number at least equal to his own; it could not reasonably be expected, that the several corps engaged, could co-operate in that joint and prompt manner, which was necessary to success; in all probability the movement of General Green could not be made in the face of a vigilant enemy without discovery, which was essential—if the several divisions were in the onset successful, the redoubts taken, the lines surmounted, and the British army driven within the city, the assault then must be extremely hazardous; an artillery superiour to their own, would be planted to play upon the front of the assailing columns, and the brick houses would be lined with a formidable infantry, to thin their flanks; a defeat, which, calculating upon the scale of probability must be expected, would ruin the army, and open the country to the depredation of the enemy; the hardy enterprises and stubborn conflicts of two campaigns, had given the British general only the command of two or three towns, protected in a great measure by the shipping, why then forego the advantage of confining the British army in narrow quarters, to place the stores in camp, and the very independence of America at risk upon this forlorn hope. The General was supported in his opinion by those officers in whose judgment he placed the most confidence, and he disregarded the clamours of ignorance and rashness. On the 4th of December, Sir Willian Howe march. ed his whole army out of Philadelphia to White Marsh
the encampment of General WAsHINGTon. He took a position on Chestnut Hill in front of the American right wing. Mr. Stedman, a British historian, of the revolutionary war, who at this time was with Sir Wii iam, states his force at fourteen thousand men. The Continental troops at White Marsh amounted to about twelve thousand, and the militia to three. The ground of the Americans was strong, but no fortifications had been erected. Never before had General W Ashington met his enemy in this manner, with a superiority of numbers. He wished to be attacked, but was not disposed to relinquish the advantage of ground. The British Commander spent the 6th in reconnoitring the American right. At night he marched to their left on the hill, which here approached nearer to their camp, and took a good position within a mile of it. The next day he advanced further to the American left, and in doing it approached still nearer this wing. General WASHINGTON made some changes in the disposition of his troops to oppose with a greater force the attack he confidently expected on his left. Momentarily expecting the assault, he rode through each brigade of the army, with perfect composure, giving his orders, animating his men to do their duty to their country, and exhorting them to depend principally on the bayonet. During these manoeuvres, some sharp skirmishing took place. At evening the disposition of General Howe indicated the design to attack the next morning. The American Commander impatiently waited the assault, promising himself some compensation for the disasters of the campaign in the issue of this battle. But his hopes were disappointed. On the afternoon of the eighth, Sir William returned to Philadelphia, with such rapidity as not to be overtaken by the American light troops, which were sent out to ha rass his rear. Sir William Howe moved out of Philadelphia with a professed d sign to utta.k General WAshington
and to drive him over the mountain. He must have
mattention of their country; but the majority of the army submitted to the scarcity without a murmur
General WASHINGToN ordered the country to be scour
ed, and provisions to be seized wherever they could be found. At the same time he stated the situation of the army to Congress, and warned that body of the dangerous consequences of this mode of obtaining supplies. It was calculated he said, to ruin the discipline of the soldiers, and to raise in them a disposition for plunder and licentiousness. It must create in the minds of the inhabitants jealousy and dissatisfaction
“I regret the occasion which compelled me to the measure the other day, and shall consider it among the greatest of our misfortunes to be under the necessity of practising it again. I am now obliged to keep several parties from the army threshing grain, that our supplies may not fail, but this will not do.”—Dur
ing the whole winter, the sufferings of the troops at Valley Forge were extreme.
Progress and Issue of the Northern Campaign—Plan to displace General Washington—His Correspondence on the Subject—Letter of General Gates—Remonstrance of the Legislature of Pennsylvania against closing the Campaign–Observations of the Commander in Chief upon it—Sufferings of the Army for the want of Provisions and Clothing—Measures adopted by the Commander in Chief to obtain supplies-Methods taken to Recruit the Arm —Sir Henry Clinton appointed Commander in Chief of the Britis Forces—He evacuates Philadelphia, and marches through NewJersey to New-York—General Washington pursues him—Battle of Monmouth—Thanks of Congress to the General and Army— General Lee censured—He demands a Court Martial, and is suspended from his command—French Fleet appears on the American Coast—Expedition against Rhode-Island–It fails—Disaffection between the American and French Officers—Measures of the Commander in Chief to prevent the ill Consequences of it—Army goes into Winter Quarters in the High Lands.
1777. During these transactions in the middle States, the northern campaign had terminated in the capture of General Burgoyne and army. That department had ever been considered as a separate com: mand, and more particularly under the direction of Congress. But the opinion of the Commander in Chief had been consulted in many of its transactions, and most of its details had passed through his hands Through him that army had been supplied with the greater part of its artillery, ammunition, and pro. visions. Upon the loss of Ticonderoga, and the disastrous events which followed it, he exerted himself to stop the career of General Burgoyne, although by this ex ertion, he weakened himself in his conflict with Sir William Howe. Without waiting for the order of Congress, in his own name he called out the militia of New-England, and directed General Lincoln to com: mand them. Strong detachments were sent to the northward from his own army. General Arnold, who had already greatly distinguished himself in the field, was sent at the head of these reinforcements, in the expectation that his influence would do much to reanimate the northern forces and inspirit them to noble exertions. Soon after Colonel Morgan with his regiment, the best partisan corps in the American army, was also detached to that service. General WAs.1INgron encouraged General Schuyler to look forward to brighter fortune. “The evacuation of Ticonderoga and Mount Independence,” said he, in a letter to that General, “is an event of chagrin and surprise, not apprehended, nor within the compass of my rea soning. This stroke is severe indeed, and has distressed us much. But notwithstanding things at pre: sent wear a dark and gloomy aspect, I hope a spirited opposition will check the progress of General Burgoyne's arms, and that the confidence derived from success will hurry him into measures, that will in their consequences be favourable to us. We should never despair. Our situation has before been unpromising, but has changed for the better, so I trust it