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part of his troops being passed at Gordon's Ford, and the rest lower down at Flatland Ford. On the night of the twenty-third, the whole British army encamped upon the left bank ; thus finding itself between the army of Washington and the city of Philadelphia.
It was now selfevident that nothing could save that city from the grasp of the English, unless the American general chose to risk a battle for its rescue.
But Washington, more guided by prudence than by the wishes and clamors of the multitude, abstained from resorting to that fatal experiment. He deemed it a measure of blind temerity to commit the fate of America to the uncertain issue of a general engagement. He daily expected the arrival of the remaining troops of Wayne and Smallwood, the continental troops of Peek's Kill and the provincial militia of New Jersey, under the command of general Dickinson, The soldiers were less fatigued than worn down by continual marches, bad roads, want of food and sufferings of every denomination. A council of war being assembled, and the condition of the army considered, it was unanimously decided to remain on the present ground, until the expected reenforcements should arrive, and 10 allow the barassed troops a few days for repose.
Washington resolved to proceed in every point with extreme circumspection, holding himself ready to seize the occasions which Heaven might offer him for the glory of its own cause, and for the good of the republic. Philadelphia was therefore abandoned as a prey which could not escape the enemy,
When it was known in that city that the violent rain which fell on the sixteenth, had prevented the two armies from coming to action, and that Washington had been constrained to retire behind the Schuylkill, Congress adjourned itself to the twenty-seventh, at Lancaster. At the same time, the public magazines and archives were evacuated with all diligence; the vessels lying at the wharves were removed up the Delaware. About twenty individuals were taken into custody, the greater part of them Quakers, avowed enemies to the state ; having positively refused to give any security in writing, or even verbal attestation, of submission or allegiance to the present government. They were sent off to Staunton, in Virginia, as a place of security.
With unshaken confidence in the virtue of Washington, as a sufficient pledge for the hope of the republic, the Congress invested him with the same dictatorial powers that were conceded him after the reverses of New Jersey. At length, the rumor of the approach of the English increasing from hour to hour, they left the city. Lord Cornivallis entered Philadelphia the twenty-sixth of September, at the head of a detachment of British and Hessian grenadiers. The rest of the army remained in the camp of Germantown. Thus the rich and populous capital of the whole confederation fell into the
power of the royalists, after a sanguinary battle, and a series of man@uvres, no less masterly than painful, of the two armies. The Quakers, and all the other loyalists who had remained there, welcomed the English with transports of gratulation. Washington, descending along the left bank of the Schuylkill, approached within sixteen miles of Germantown. He encamped at Skippach Creek, purposing to accommodate his measures to the state of things.
The loss of Philadelphia did not produce among the Americans a particle of that discouragement which the English had flattered themselves would be the consequence of this event. The latter, on finding themselves masters of ihat city, erected batteries upon the Delaware, in order to command the whole breadth of the river, prevent any sudden attack by water, and interdict to the republicans all navigation between its upper and lower parts. While they were engaged in these works, the Americans, with the frigate Delaware anchored within five hundred yards of the unfinished batteries, and with soine smaller vessels, commenced a very heavy cannonade both upon the batteries and the town. They did not, however, display the judgment which their knowledge of the river might be supposed to afford; for upon the falling of the tide the Delaware grounded so effectually that she could not be got off, which being perceived by the English, they brought their cannon to play upon her with so much effect that she was soon obliged to strike her colors. The same fire compelled the other vessels to retire up the river, with the loss of a schooner which was driven ashore.
The Americans, under the apprehension of what afterwards happened, that is, of not being able to preserve. Philadelphia, had, with great labor and expense, constructed all manner of works to interrupt the navigation of the river, in order to prevent the British fleet from communicating with the troops that might occupy the city. They knew that the army of Washington, when it should have received its reenforcements, would soon be in a condition to take the field anew, and to cut off the enemy's supplies on the side of Pennsylvania ; if, therefore, unable to procure them by water, the English must in a short time be compelled to evacuate the city. Pursuant to this reasoning, the Americans had erected works and batteries upon a flat, low, marshy island, or rather a bank of mud and sand which had been accumulated in the Delaware near the junction of the Schuylkill, and which from it nature was called Mud, but from these desences, Fort Island. On the opposite shore of New Jersey, at a place called Red Bank, they had also constructed a fort or redoubt, well covered with heavy artillery. In the deep navigable channel, between or under the cover of these batteries, they had sunk several ranges of frames or machines, the construction of which we have already described in a foregoing book. About three miles lower down, they had sunk other ranges of these machines, and were con
structing for their protection some considerable and extensive works, which, though not yet finished, were in such forwardness, as to be provided with artillery, and to command their object, at a place on the Jersey side, called Billings Point. These works and machines were further supported by several gallies, mounting heavy cannon, together with two floating batteries, a number of armed vessels and small craft of various kinds, and some fire-ships.
The English well knew the importance of opening for themselves a free communication with the sea, by means of the Delaware ; since their operations could never be considered secure, so long as the enemy should maintain positions upon the banks of that river ; and accordingly they deliberated upon the means of reducing them. Immediately after the success of the Brandywine, lord Howe, who commanded the whole fleet, had made sail for the mouth of the Delaware, and several light vessels had already arrived in that river, among others the Roebuck, commanded by captain Hammond. That officer represented to general Howe, that if sufficient forces were sent to attack the fort at Billings Point, on the Jersey shore, it might be taken without difficulty ; and that he would then take upon himself to open a passage for the vessels through the chevaux-defrize. The general approved this project, and detached two regiments under colonel Stirling, to carry it into effect. The detachment, having crossed the river from Chester, the moment they had set foot upon the Jersey shore, marched with all speed to attack the fort in rear.
The Americans, not thinking themselves able to sustain the enemy's assault, immediately spiked their artillery, set fire to the barracks, and abandoned the place with precipitation. The English waited to destroy or to render unserviceable those parts of the works which fronted the river, and this success, with the spirit and perseverance exhibited by the officers and crews of the ships under his command, enabled Hammond, through great difficulties, to carry the principal object of the expedition into effect, by cutting away and weighing up so much of the chevaux-de-frize as opened a narrow passage for the shipping through this lower barrier.
The two regiments of Stirling returned, after their expedition to Chester, whether another had been sent to meet them, in order that they might all together form a sufficient escort for a large convoy of provisions to the camp.
Washington, who had not left his position at Skippach Creek, being informed that three regiments had been thus detached, and knowing that lord Cornwallis lay at Philadelphia with four battalions of grenadiers, perceived that the army of Howe must be sensibly weakened. He determined, therefore, to avail himself of this favorable circumstance, and to fall unexpectedly upon the British army encamped at Germantown.
He took this resolution with the more confidence, as he was now reenforced by the junction of the troops from Peek's Kill and the Maryland militia.
Germantown is a considerable village, about half a dozen miles from Philadelphia, and which, stretching on both sides of the great road to the northward, forms a continued street of two miles in length. The British line of encampment crossed Germantown at right angles about the centre, the left wing extending on the west, from the town to the Schuylkill. That wing was covered in front, by the mounted and disinounted German chasseurs, who were stationed a little above towards the American camp; a battalion of light infantry, and the Queen's American rangers were in the front of the right. The centre being posted within the town, was guarded by the fortieth regiment, and another battalion of light infantry stationed about three quarters of a mile above the head of the village. Washington resolved to attack the British by surprise, not doubting that, if he succeeded in breaking them, as they were not only distant, but totally separated from the fleet, his victory must be decisive.
He so disposed his troops, that the divisions of Sullivan and Wayne, flanked by Conway's brigade, were to march down the main road, and entering the town by the way of Chestnut Hill, to attack the English centre, and the right flank of their left wing; the divisions of Greene and Stephens, flanked by Macdougall's brigade, were to take a circuit towards the east, by the Limekiln road, and entering the town at the markethouse, to attack the left flank of the right
wing. The iotention of the American general in seizing the village • of Germantown by a double attack, was effectually to separate the
right and left wings of the royal army, which must have given him a certain victory. In order that the left flank of the left wing might not contract itself, and support the right Aank of the same wing, general Armstrong, with the Pennsylvania militia, was ordered to march down the bridge road upon the banks of the Schuylkill, and endeavor to turn the English, if they should retire from that river. In like manner, to prevent the right flank of the right wing from going to the succour of the left flank, which rested upon Germantown, the militia of Maryland and Jersey, under generals Smallwood and Forman, were to march down the Old York road, and to fall upon the English on that extremity of their wing. The division of lord Sterling, and the brigades of generals Nash and Maxwell, formed the reserve. These dispositions being made, Washington quitted his camp at Skippach Creek, and moved towards the enemy, on the third of October, about seven in the evening. Parties of cavalry silently scoured all the roads to seize any individuals who might have given notice to the British general of the danger that threatened him. Washington in person accompanied the column of Sullivan and Waync. The march was rapid and silent.
At three o'clock in the morning, the British patroles discovered the approach of the Americavs; the troops were soon called to arms; each took his post with the precipitation of surprise. About sunrise the Americans came up. General Conway having driven in the pickets, fell upon the fortieth regiment and the battalion of light infantry. These corps, after a short resistance, being overpowered by numbers, were pressed and pursued into the village. Fortune appeared already to have declared herself in favor of the Americans ; and certainly if they had gained coroplete possession of Germantown, nothing could have frustrated them of the most sigual victory. But in this conjuncture, lieutenant-colonel Musgrave threw himself, with six companies of the fortieth regiment, into a large and strong stone house, situated near the head of the village, from which he poured upon the assailants so terrible a fire of musketry that they could advance no further. The Americans attempted to storm this unexpected covert of the enemy, but those within continued to defend themselves with resolution. They finally brought cannon up to the assault, but such was the intrepidity of the English, and the violence of their fire, that it was found impossible to dislodge them. During this time, general Greene had approached the right wing, and routed, after a slight engagement, the light infantry and Queen's rangers. Afterwards, turning a little to his right, and towards Germantown, he fell upon the left flank of the enemy's right wing, and endeavored to enter the village. Meanwhile, he expected that the Pennsylvania militia, under Armstrong, upon the right, and the militia of Maryland and Jersey, commanded by Smallwood and Forman on the left, would have executed the orders of the commander-in-chief, by attacking and turning, the first the left, and the second the right, flank of the British army. But either because the obstacles they encountered had retarded thein, or that they wanted ardor, the former arrived in sight of the German chasseurs, and did not attack them; the latter appeared too late upon the field of battle.
The consequence was, that general Grey, finding his left flank secure, marched, with nearly the whole of the left wing, to the assistance of the centre, which, notwithstanding the unexpected resistance of colonel Musgrave, was excessively hard pressed in Germantown, where the Americans gained ground incessantly. The battle was now very warm at that village, the attack and the defence being equally vigorous. The issue appeared for some time dubious. General Agnew was mortally wounded, while charging with great bravery, at the head of the fourth brigade. The American colonel Matthews, of the column of Greene, assailed the English with so much fury that he drove them before him into the town. He had taken a large number of prisoners, and was about entering the village, when he perceived that a thick fog and the unevenness of the ground had caused him to lose sight of the rest of his division. Being soon