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heights which defended the front of his camp, and kept it all the following night under arms.
Meanwhile, the militia of New Jersey assembled from every quarter, with great alacrity; and general Sullivan with his detachinent marching upon the left bank of the Millstone, had approached the Rariton, so as to be able to disquiet the enemy by frequent skirmishes in front, and to join, if necessary, with the commander-in-chief.
General Howe having ascertained that his adversary was too wary to be caught in the spares that he had hitherto laid for him, and that his menaces to pass the Delaware would be fruitless, resolved next to try whether the appearance of sear, and a precipitate retreat towards Amboy, might not have the effect of drawing him into the plain, and consequently, of forcing him to an engagement. According to this new plan, in the night of the nineteenth, he suddenly quitted his position in front of the enemy, where he had begun to intrench himself; he retired in haste to Brunswick, and thence, with the same marks of precipitation, towards Amboy. The English, as they retreated, burned a great number of houses, either from personal rage, or with a view to inflame the passions of the Americans, and increase the ardor of their pursuit. When they had gained Amboy, they threw the bridge, which was intended for the Delaware, over the channel which separates the continent from Staten Island, and immediately passed over it their heavy baggage, and all the incumbrances of the army. Some of the troops followed, and every thing was in immediate preparation for the passage of the rest of the army, as if all hope had been lost of its making any further progress in New Jersey. Washington, with all bis caution and penetration, allowed himself to be imposed upon by this stratagem of his adversary. He ordered generals Greene, Sullivan, and Maxwell, to pursue the enemy with strong detachments; but the two latter were not in season. Colonel Morgan infested the rear of the retreating army with his cavalry ; and lord Sterling, with colonel Conway, harassed its left flank. The advantages they gained, however, were trifling, as the English marched in good order, and had taken care to place a great part of their forces in the rear guard. Finally, Washington bimself, to be more at hand for the protection and support of his advanced parties, descended from the impregnable heights of Middlebrook, and advanced to a place called Quibbletown, six or seven miles nearer to Amboy.
Lord Sterling, with a strong division, occupied the village of Metuckin, lower down towards that city.
General Howe lost no time in endeavoring to profit of the occasion he had opened for himself so shrewdly. In the night of the twentyfifth of June, he drew back bis troops from Staten Island to the continent, and on the morning of the twenty-sixth, marched them with great expedition against the Americans. His army formed two distinct divisions. He had ihree objects in view. To cut off some of
the principal advanced parties of the enemy; to bring his main body to an engagement; and finally, by a rapid movement upon his left, to seize the defiles of the mountains which led to the encampment of Middlebrook, in order to prevent Washington from resuming that strong position. The column of the right, commanded by lord Cornwallis, was destined to accomplish this last operation ; accordingly it moved with extreme celerity, by the way of Woodbridge, to the Scotch Plains. The left, under the immediate orders of general Howe, took the route of Metuckin. It was the intention of the English generals, that these two corps should reunite beyond the village of Metuckin, upon the road leading from that place to the Scotch Plains, and that thence, having separated anew, the left should rapidly turn against the left flank of the American army, posted at Quibbletown, while the right should endeavor to occupy the bills situated upon the left of the camp of Middlebrook. Four battalions with six pieces of artillery, remained at Bonhampton to secure Amboy against any unforeseen attack.
According to these dispositions, the English army advanced with a rapid step, sanguine in the hope of victory. But fortune, who was pleased to reserve the Americans for a better destiny, all at once deranged the well concerted scheme of the British generals. Lord Cornwallis having passed Woodbridge, fell in with a party of seven bundred American riflemen. A warm skirmish ensued, which soon terminated in the flight of the republicans. But the noise of the musketry, and afterwards the fugitives themselves gave Washington warning of the extreme danger that menaced him. His resolution was immediately taken to recover with celerity what he had abandoned, perhaps, with imprudence. He quitted accordingly bis position at Quibbletown, and with all possible expedition repossessed biroself of the encampment of Middlebrook. When arrived, he instantly detached a strong corps to secure those passes in the mountains upon his left, through which he perceived it was the intention of lord Cornwallis to approach the heights. This general having dispersed without difficulty the smaller advanced parties of the enemy, fell in at length with lord Sterling, who, with about three thousand men, strongly posted in a woody country, and well covered by artillery judiciously disposed, manifested a determination to dispute his passage. But the English and Hessians, animated by a mutual emulation, attacked with such impetuosity, that the Americans, unable to withstand the shock, were soon routed on all sides, having sustained besides no inconsiderable loss in men, that of three pieces of brass ordnance. The English continued their pursuit as far as Westfield, but the woods and the intense heat of the weather, prevented its effect. Lord Cornwallis having discovered that the defiles were diligently guarded, and despairing of being able to accomplish his design, returned by the road of Raway, to Amboy. General Howe
in like manner, finding his plan entirely defeated by the sudden retreat of Washington into his strong camp of Middlebrook, also marched back to that city. The brigades of Scott and Conway followed the English step by step as far as the frontiers, but without finding an opening to attack them, so close and cautious was their order of march.
The British generals now reflected that the continuation of hostilities in New Jersey, with a view of penetrating to the Delaware, would not only be fruitless, since the enemy was evidently resolved not to hazard a general engagement, but that it would even be attended with extreme danger, as well from the strength of his positions as from the general enmity of the inhabitants. In effect, the season was already advanced, and there was no more time to be wasted in unprofitable expeditions. They resolved therefore to attack Pennsylvania by way of the sea ; thus persevering in their scheme of acting by themselves, and not in conjunction with the Canadian army, which it was known had invested Ticonderoga ; and which probably would soon be, if it was not already, in possession of that fortress. Accordingly all the troops of general Howe were passed over the channel to Staten Island, and the Americans soon after entered Amboy. The great preparations made by the English in Staten Island, and in all the province of New York, for the embarkation of the army, and the uncertainty of the place against which the storm would be directed, excited a general alarm throughout the continent. Boston, the Hudson river, the Delaware, Chesapeake bay, and even Charleston, in Carolina, were alternately held to be the objects of the expedition. General Washington exerted the utmost vigilance ; he inaintained a secret correspondence with the republicans in New York, who advised him daily of whatever they saw and heard. In pursuance of this intelligence, he was continually despatching expresses to put those places upon their guard, which, from immediate information, he supposed for the time to be the threatened point. But herein the English had greatly the advantage, for having the sea always open, they could fall unawares upon the destined place, before the inhabitants could be prepared to resist them, and before the soldiery could possibly come to their succour.
But among all the objects that general Howe might have in view, the Americans knew very well, that the two which he must consider of most importance, were consequently the most probable. These were evidently either the conquest of Philadelphia, or the cooperation, by the Hudson river, with the army of Canada. But to which of these two operations he would give the preference, it was not easy to penetrate. In this perplexity, Washington continued stationary in his encampment at Middlebrook, where he could securely persist in his defensive system, and be equally near at hand to inarch to the succour of Philadelphia, or to ascend the Hudson.
In this posture of things, a movement of general Howe led him to believe that the English had in view the expedition of Albany. Their feet, moored at Princesbay, a place not far from Amboy, moved higher up towards New York, and came to anchor at Wateringplace, while their whole army, with its munitions and baggage, withdrew from the coast opposite Amboy, and took post at the north point of Siaten Island. Washington, thereupon, having posted two regiments of infantry and one of light horse between Newark and Amboy, to cover this part against desultory incursions, moved with the main body of his arıny to reoccupy his old camp of Morristown. He there found himself nearer to the Hudson, without being at such a distance from Middlebrook, as to prevent him from promptly resuming that position, is the enemy made any demonstration against New Jersey. He, moreover, detached general Sullivan with a numerous corps to occupy Prompton, upon the road to Peek's Kill, in order that he might, according to circumstances, either advance to the latter place, or return to Morristowo.
In the meantime, it was confidently reported that general Burgoyne, who commanded the British army upon the lakes, had appeared in great force under the walls of Ticonderoga. Washington, therefore, still more persuaded of the intended cooperation of the two armies, under Howe and Bugoyne, upon the banks of the Hudson, ordered general Sullivan to advance immediately and post himself in front of Peck's Kill, while he proceeded hinself as far as Prompton, and afterwards io Clove. The news soon arrived of the surrender of Ticonderoga, and at the same time, intelligence was received that the English Reet was anchored under New York, and even that a great number of transports were come up the Hudson as far as Dobbs Ferry, where the river widens so as to form a species of lake, called Tappan Bay. These different movements confirmed Washington in his conjectures respecting the project of the enemy; he therefore directed general Sulivan to pass the Hudson, and to intrench bimself behind Peek's Kill upon the left bank. In like manner, lord Sterling was ordered 10 cross the river and unite with general Putnam, who guarded the heights that were the object of so much jealousy for the two armies. But, as the larger ships, and a part of the light vessels, were returned from Watering place to Sandy Hook, as if the feet was preparing for sea, in order to gain the Delaware, and as the whole British army still remained in Staten Island, Washington began to suspect that general Howe meditated embarking with a view to the conquest of Philadelphia.
To the inidst of these uncertainties, and while the American general endeavored to penetrate the intentions of the English, and the latter to deceive him by vain demonstrations upon the banks of the Hudson, the news arrived of an adventure which, though of little importance in itself, produced as much exultation to the Americans as regret to
the English. The British troops stationed in Rhode Island were commanded by general Prescott, who, finding himself in an island surrounded by the feet of the king, and disposing of a force greatly superior 10 what the enemy could assemble in this quarter, became extremely negligent of his guard. The Americans, earnestly desiring to retaliate the capture of general Lee, formed the design of surprising general Prescoit in his quarters, and of bringing him off prisoner to the continent. Accordingly, in the night of the tenth of July, lieutenant-colonel Barton, at the head of a party of forty of the country militia, well acquainted with the places, embarked in whale boats, and after having rowed a distance of above ten iniles, and avoided with great dexterity the numerous vessels of the enemy, landed upon the western coast of Rbode Island, between Newport and Bristol Ferry. He repaired immediately, with the utmost silence and celerity, to the lodging of general Prescott. They adroitly secured the sentinels who guarded the door. An aid-de-camp went up into the chamber of the general, who slept quietly, and arrested him, without giving him time even to put on his clothes; they conducted him with equal secrecy and success to the main land. This event afforded the Americans singular satisfaction, as they hoped to exchange their prisoner for general Lee. It was, however, particularly galling to general Prescott, who not long before had been delivered by exchange from the hands of the Americans, after having been taken in the expedition of Canada. In addition to this, he had lately been guilty of an action unworthy of a man of bonor, in setting a price upon the head of general Arnold, as if he had been a common outlaw and assassin ; an insult which Arnold immediately returned, by setting an inferior price upon the person of Prescott. The Congress publicly thanked lieutenant-colonel Barton, and presented him with a sword.
Meanwhile, the immensity of the preparations made by general Howe for fitting out the feet, as well as several movements it executed, strengthened the suspicion of Washington that the demonstrations of the Englisle upon the Hudson were no other than a inere feint. Every day he was more and more convinced that their real plan was to embark and proceed to the attack of Philadelphia, as the capital of the confederation. He therefore retired progressively from Clove, and divided bis army into several corps, in order to be able to succour the places attacked with the more expedition. He prayed the Congress to assemble the militia of Pennsylvania, without loss of time, at Chester, and those of the lower counties of Delaware, at Wilmington. He directed watches 10 be stationed upon the capes of the Delaware, to keep a look oui, and give early notice of the arrival of the enemy. The governor of New Jersey was exhorted to call out the militia of the districts bordering upon this river, directing them to make head at Gloucester, situated upon the left bank, a little below Philadelpbia.