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bets have run high on one side, that we were to occupy the ground marked out on the Jersey shore, to aid in the siege of New York; and on the other, that we are stealing a march on the enemy, and are actually destined to Virginia, in pursuit of the army under Cornwallis. * A number of bateaux mounted on carriages have followed in our train; supposed for the purpose of conveying the troops over to Staten Island.”*
The mystery was at length solved. "We have now passed all the enemy's posts," continues the foregoing writer, "and are pursuing our route, with increased rapidity, toward Philadelphia. Waggons have been prepared to carry the soldiers' packs, that they may press forward with greater facility. Our destination can no longer be a secret. Cornwallis is unquestionably the object of our present expedition. * His Excellency, General Washington, having succeeded in a masterly piece of generalship, has now the satisfaction of leaving his adversary to ruminate on his own mortifying situation, and to anticipate the perilous fate which awaits his friend, Lord Cornwallis, in a different quarter." +
* * **
Washington had in fact reached the Delaware with his troops, before Sir Henry Clinton was aware of their destination. It was too late to oppose their march,
Thacher's Military Journal, p. 323.
Washington several years afterwards, speaking of this important march in a letter to Noah Webster, writes: "That much trouble was taken, and finesse used, to misguide and bewilder Sir Henry Clinton in regard to the real object, by fictitious communications, as well as by making a deceptive provision of ovens, forage and boats in his neighborhood, is certain. Nor were less pains taken to deceive our own army, for I had always conceived where the imposition does not completely take place at home, it would never sufficiently succeed abroad."-Sparks, ix. 404.
ARNOLD ATTACKS NEW LONDON.
even had his forces been adequate. As a kind of counterplot, therefore, and in the hope of distracting the 'attention of the American commander, and drawing off a part of his troops, he hurried off an expedition to the eastward, to insult the State of Connecticut, and attack her seaport of New London.
The command of this expedition, which was to be one of ravage and destruction, was given to Arnold, as if it was necessary to complete the measure of his infamy, that he should carry fire and sword into his native State, and desecrate the very cradle of his infancy.
On the 6th of September he appeared off the harbor of New London with a fleet of ships and transports and a force of two thousand infantry and three hundred cavalry; partly British troops, but a great part made up of American royalists and refugees, and Hessian Yagers.
New London stands on the west bank of the river Thames. The approach to it was defended by two forts on opposite sides of the river, and about a mile below the town; Fort Trumbull on the west and Fort Griswold on the east side, on a height called Groton Hill. The troops landed in two divisions of about eight hundred men each; one under Lieutenant Colonel Eyre on the east side, the other under Arnold on the west, on the same side with New London and about three miles below it. Arnold met with but little opposition. The few militia which manned an advance battery and Fort Trumbull abandoned their posts and crossed the river to Fort Griswold. He pushed on and took possession of the town.
Colonel Eyre had a harder task. The militia, about
one hundred and fifty-seven strong, had collected in Fort Griswold, hastily and imperfectly armed it is true, some of them merely with spears; but they were brave men and had a brave commander, Colonel William Ledyard, brother of the celebrated traveller. The fort was square and regularly built. Arnold unaware of its strength had ordered Colonel Eyre to take it by a coup-de-main. He discovered his mistake and sent counter orders, but too late.
Colonel Eyre forced the pickets; made his way into the fosse and attacked the fort on three sides; it was bravely defended; the enemy were repeatedly repulsed; they returned to the assault, scrambled up on each other's shoulders, effected a lodgment on the fraise, and made their way with fixed bayonets through the embrasures. Colonel Eyre received a mortal wound near the works; Major Montgomery took his place; a negro thrust him through with a spear as he mounted the parapet; Major Bromfield succeeded to the command and carried the fort at the point of the bayonet. In fact after the enemy were within the walls the fighting was at an end and the slaughter commenced. Colonel Ledyard had ordered his men to lay down their arms; but the enemy, exasperated by the resistance they had experienced and by the death of their officers, continued the deadly work of the musket and the bayonet. Colonel Ledyard, it is said, was thrust through with his own sword after yielding it up to Major Bromfield. Seventy of the garrison were slain and thirty-five desperately wounded; and most of them after the fort had been taken. The massacre was chiefly perpetrated by the tories, refugees and
1781.] ARNOLD RAVAGES NEW LONDON.
Hessians. Major Bromfield himself was a New Jersey loyalist. The rancor of such men against their patriot countrymen was always deadly. The loss of the enemy was two officers and forty-six soldiers killed, and eight officers and one hundred and thirty-five soldiers wounded.
Arnold in the mean time had carried on the work of destruction at New London. Some of the American shipping had effected their escape up the river, but a number were burnt. Fire too was set to the public stores; it communicated to the dwelling houses, and, in a little while, the whole place was wrapped in flames. The destruction was immense, not only of public but private property: many families once living in affluence were ruined and rendered homeless.
Having completed his ravage, Arnold retreated to his boats, leaving the town still burning. Alarm guns had roused the country; the traitor was pursued by the exasperated yeomanry; he escaped their wellmerited vengeance, but several of his men were killed and wounded.
So ended his career of infamy in his native land; a land which had once delighted to honor him, but in which his name was never thenceforth to be pronounced without a malediction.
The expedition, while it added one more hateful and disgraceful incident to this unnatural war, failed of its main object. It had not diverted Washington from the grand object on which he had fixed his mind. On the 30th of August he, with his suite, had arrived at Philadelphia about noon, and alighted at the city tavern amidst enthusiastic crowds, who welcomed him
with acclamations, but wondered at the object of this visit. During his sojourn in the city he was hospitably entertained at the house of Mr. Morris, the patriotic financier. The greatest difficulty with which he had to contend in his present enterprise was the want of funds, part of his troops not having received any pay for a long time, and having occasionally given evidence of great discontent. The service upon which they were going was disagreeable to the northern regiments, and the douceur of a little hard money would have an effect, Washington thought, to put them into a proper temper. In this emergency he was accommodated by the Count de Rochambeau with a loan of twenty thousand hard dollars, which Mr. Robert Morris engaged to repay by the first of October. This pecuniary pressure was relieved by the arrival in Boston on the 25th of August of Colonel John Laurens from his mission. to France, bringing with him two and a half millions of livres in cash, being part of a subsidy of six millions of livres granted by the French King.
On the 2d of September the American troops passed through Philadelphia. Their line of march, including appendages and attendants, extended nearly two miles. The general officers and their staffs were well dressed and well mounted, and followed by servants and baggage. In the rear of every brigade were several field-pieces with ammunition waggons. The soldiers kept step to the sound of the drum and fife. In the rear followed a great number of waggons laden with tents, provisions and baggage, beside a few soldiers' wives and children. The weather was warm and dry. The troops as they marched raised a cloud of