Imagens das páginas



Of the operations of General Washington in New Jersey and Peuy?

vania, in the campaign of 1777.... The battles of Brandywinc and Ger mantown..... Washington is advised by the Rev. Jacob Dachè, to give up the contest..... The distresses of the American army..... Its winter quarters in Valley Forge..., Gen. Washington is assailed by the clamours of discontented individuals and public bodies, and by the designs of a faction to supersede him in his office as commander in chief.

[ocr errors]

The victories at Trenton and Princeton produced the most extensive effects, and had a decided influence on subsequent events. Philadelphia was saved for that winter. Jersey was recovered. The drooping spirits of the Americans were revived. The gloomy apprehensions which had lately prevailed, of their being engaged in a hopeless cause, yielded to a confidence in their General and their army, and in the ultimate success of their struggles for liberty and independence. So strong an impulse was given to the recruiting ser: vice in every part of the United States, as gave good ground to hope that the commander in chief would be enabled to take the field in the spring


This se

with a permanent regular army, on the new terms of inlistment.

After the campaign had been thus carried into the month of January, Washington retired to Mor. ristown, that he might afford shelter to his suffer. ing army. His situation there was far from being eligible. His force for some considerable time was trifling, when compared with that of the British ; but the enemy and his own countrymen believed the contrary. Their deception was cherished and artfully continued by the parade of a large army. Washing on placed his officers in positions of difficult access, and they kept up a constant communication with each other. cured them from insult and surprise. While they covered the country, they harassed the foraging parties of the British, and confined them to narrow limits.

The remainder of the winter season passed over in a light war of skirmishes. These were generally in favour of the Americans ; but Washington's views were much more extensive. He hoped that his country, encouraged by the late suc. cesses at Trenton and Princeton, would have placed at his disposal a large and efficient army, equal to that of the enemy. To obtain it, he urged with great earnestness the advantage of being enabled to undertake decisive operations before reinforcements to the British army should arrive. Congress, at his instance, passed the requisite resolu. tions; but these could not be carried into effect without the aid of the state legislatures. The de. lays incident to this slow mode of doing business, added to the recollection of the suffering of the troops in the last campaign, retarded the recruiting service. Washington with infinite reluctance was obliged to give up his favourite project of an early active campaign.

In the advance of the spring, when recruits were obtained, a difficulty arose in assembling them from the different states in which they had been inlisted. As the British had possession of the ocean, they could at pleasure transfer the war to any maritime portion of the union. Each state, anxious for its particular safety, claimed protection from the common army of the whole. Had they been indulged, the feeble remnant under the immediate direction of the commander in chief, would have been unequal to any great enterprise. To these partial calls he opposed all his authority and influence, and his pointed representations made an impression in favour of primary objects. These were to prevent ihe British from geiting possession of Philadelphia, or ilie Highlands on the Hudson. Both were of so nearly equal importance to their interest, that it was impossible to ascertain which should be preferred by Sir William Howe. In this uncertainty, Washington made such an arrangement of his troops as would enable him to oppose either. The northern troops were divided between Ticonderoga and Peekskill; while those from Jersey and the south were encamped at Middlebrook, near the Rariton. The American force collected at this strong and defensible encampment, was nominally between nine and ten thousand men; but the effective rank and file was about six thousand. A majority of these were raw re

[ocr errors]

cruits; and a considerable number of such as had been inlisted in the middle states were foreigners or servants. To encourage the desertion of troops so slightly attached to the American cause, Gen. Howe offered a reward to every soldier who would come over to his army, and an additional compensation to such as would bring their arms with them. To counteract these propositions, Washington recommended to Congress to give full pardon to all Americans who would relinquish the British service. The campaign opened early in June on the

part of the British, who advanced toward Philadelphia as far as Somerset county, in New Jersey ; but they soon fell back to New Brunswick. After this retreat, Sir William Howe endeavoured to provoke Washington to an engagement, and lest no maneuvre untried that was calculated to in. duce him to quit his position. At one time he appeared as if he intended to push on, without regarding the army opposed to him. At another, he accurately examined the situation of the American encampment; hoping that some unguarded part might be found on which an attack might be made that would open the way to a general engagement. All these hopes were frustrated. Washington knew the full value of his situation. He had too much penetration to lose it from the circumvention of military manæuvres, and too much temper to be provoked to a dereliction of it. lle was well apprised it was not the interest of his country to commit its fortune to a single action.

[ocr errors]

Sir William Howe suddenly relinquished his position in front of the Americans, and retired with his whole force to Amboy. The apparently retreating British were pursued by a considerable detachment of the American army, and Washington advanced from Middlebrook to Quibbletown, to be near at hand for the support of his advanced parties. The British General immediately marched his army back from Amboy, with great expedition, hoping to bring on a general action on equal ground; but he was disappointed. Washington fell back, and posted his army in such an advantageous situation as compensated for the inferiority of his numbers. Sir William Hoive was now ful. ly convinced of the impossibility of compelling a general engagement on equal terms, and also sat. isfied that it would be too hazardous to attempt passing the Delaware while the country was in arms, and the main American army in full force in

He therefore returned to Amboy, and thence passed over to Staten Island, resolving to prosecute the objects of the campaign by an embarkation of his whole force at New York. During the period of these movements, the real de. signs of Gen. Howe were involved in obscurity. Though the season for military operations was advanced as far as the month of July, yet his determinate object could not be ascertained. Nothing on his part had hitherto taken place, but alternately advancing and retreating. Washington's embarrassment on this account was increased by intelligence which arrived, that Burgoyne was ad. vancing in great force toward New York from Canada. Apprehending that Sir William Howe

his rear.


« AnteriorContinuar »