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River commenced a heavy cannonade upon the breastworks between Turtle Bay and the city. At the same time two divisions of the troops encamped on Long Island, one British, under Sir Henry Clinton, the other Hessian, under Colonel Donop, emerged in boats from the deep, woody recesses of Newtown Inlet, and under cover of the fire from the ships, began to land at two points between Turtle and Kip's Bays. The breastworks were manned by militia who had recently served at Brooklyn. Disheartened by their late defeat, they fled at the first advance of the enemy. Two brigades of Putnam's Connecticut troops (Parsons' and Fellows') which had been sent that morning to support them, caught the panic, and regardless of the commands and entreaties of their officers, joined in the general scamper.

At this moment Washington, who had mounted his horse at the first sound of the cannonade, came galloping to the scene of confusion; riding in among the fugitives, he endeavored to rally and restore them to order. All in vain. At the first appearance of sixty or seventy red coats, they broke again without firing a shot, and fled in headlong terror. Losing all self-command at the sight of such dastardly conduct, he dashed his hat upon the ground in a transport of rage. "Are these the men," exclaimed he, "with whom I am to defend America!" In a paroxysm of passion and despair he snapped his pistols at some of them, threatened others with his sword, and was so heedless of his own danger, that he might have fallen into the hands of the enemy, who were not eighty yards distant, had not an aide-de-camp seized the bridle of his horse, and absolutely hurried him away.


* Graydon's Memoirs, p. 174. General Greene, in a letter to a friend, writes: "We made a miserable, disorderly retreat from New York, owing

It was one of the rare moments of his life, when the vehement element of his nature was stirred up from its deep recesses. He soon recovered his self-possession, and took measures against the general peril. The enemy might land another force about Hell Gate, seize upon Harlem Heights, the strong central portion of the island, cut off all retreat of the lower divisions, and effectually sever his army. In all haste, therefore, he sent off an express to the forces encamped above, directing them to secure that position immediately; while another express to Putnam, ordered an immediate retreat from the city to those heights.

Had the enemy

It was indeed a perilous moment. followed up their advantage, and seized upon the heights, before thus occupied; or had they extended themselves across the island, from the place where they had effected a landing, the result might have been most disastrous to the Americans. Fortunately, they contented themselves for the present with sending a strong detachment down the road along the East River, leading to the city, while the main body, British and Hessians, rested on their arms.

In the mean time, Putnam, on receiving Washington's express, called in his pickets and guards, and abandoned the city in all haste, leaving behind him a large quantity of provisions and military stores, and most of the heavy cannon. To avoid the enemy he took the Bloomingdale road, though this exposed him to be raked by the enemy's ships anchored in the Hudson. It was a forced march, on a sultry day, under

to the conduct of the militia, who ran at the appearance of the enemy's advanced guard. Fellows' and Parsons' brigades ran away from about fifty men, and left his Excellency on the ground, within eighty yards of the enemy, so vexed at the infamous conduct of his troops, that he sought death rather than life."




a burning sun and amid clouds of dust. His army was encumbered with women and children and all kinds of baggage. Many were overcome by fatigue and thirst, some perished by hastily drinking cold water; but Putnam rode backward and forward, hurrying every

one on.

Colonel Humphreys, at that time a volunteer in his division, writes: "I had frequent opportunities that day of beholding him, for the purpose of issuing orders and encouraging the troops, flying on his horse covered with. foam, wherever his presence was most necessary. Without his extraordinary exertions, the guards must have been inevitably lost, and it is probable the entire corps would have been cut in pieces.

"When we were not far from Bloomingdale, an aidede-camp came to him at full speed, to inform him that a column of British infantry was descending upon our right. Our rear was soon fired upon, and the colonel of our regiment, whose order was just communicated for the front to file off to the left, was killed upon the spot. With no other loss, we joined the army after dark upon the heights of Harlem."*

Tradition gives a circumstance which favored Putnam's retreat. The British generals, in passing by Murray Hill, the country residence of a patriot of that name who was of the Society of Friends, made a halt to seek some refreshment. The proprietor of the house was absent; but his wife set cake and wine before them in abundance. So grateful were these refreshments in the heat of the day, that they lingered over their wine, quaffing, and laughing, and bantering their patriotic hostess about the ludicrous panic and discomfiture of her countrymen. In the mean time, before they were

Peabody, Life of Putnam. Sparks' Am. Biog., vii. 189.

roused from their regale, Putnam and his forces had nearly passed by, within a mile of them. All the loss sustained by him in his perilous retreat, was fifteen killed, and about three hundred taken prisoners. It became, adds the tradition, a common saying among the American officers, that Mrs. Murray saved Putnam's division of the army. *


Fortified Camp at King's Bridge
Morris House Alexander Hamilton
ful Skirmish Death of Knowlton
ganization of the Army Exchange of Prisoners


American and British Lines The Enemy Advance SuccessGreat Fire in New York ReorDaniel Morgan regained Robert Rogers, the Partisan His Rangers - The Roebuck, Phoenix, and Tartar in the Hudson tary Movements by Land and Water Letter of John Jay.

De Lancey's Tory Brigade


THE fortified camp, where the main body of the army was now assembled, was upon that neck of land several miles long, and for the most part not above a mile wide, which forms the upper part of Manhattan or New York Island. It forms a chain of rocky heights, and is separated from the mainland by Harlem River, a narrow strait, extending from Hell Gate on the Sound, to Spyt den Duivel, a creek or inlet of the Hudson. Fort Washington occupied the crest of one of the rocky heights above mentioned, overlooking the Hudson, and about two miles north of it was King's Bridge, crossing Spyt den Duivel Creek, and forming at that time the only pass from Manhattan Island to the mainland.

About a mile and a half south of the fort, a double row of lines extended across the neck from Harlem River to the Hudson. They faced south towards New York, were about a quarter of a mile apart, and were defended by batteries.

There were strong advanced posts, about two miles
Thacher's Military Journal, p. 70.




south of the outer line; one on the left at Harlem, commanded by General Spencer, the other on the right, at what was called McGowan's Pass, commanded by General Putnam. About a mile and half beyond these posts the British lines extended across the island from Horen's Hook to the Hudson, being a continuous encampment, two miles in length, with both flanks covered by shipping. An open plain intervened between the hostile camps.

Washington had established his head-quarters about a quarter of a mile within the inner line; at a countryseat, the owners of which were absent. It belonged in fact to Colonel Roger Morris, his early companion in arms in Braddock's campaign, and his successful competitor for the hand of Miss Mary Philipse. Morris had remained in America, enjoying the wealth he had acquired by his marriage; but had adhered to the royal party, and was a member of the council of the colony. It is said that at this time he was residing in the Highlands at Beverley, the seat of his brother-in-law, Washington's old friend, Beverley Robinson.*

While thus posted, Washington was incessantly occupied in fortifying the approaches to his camp by redoubts, abatis, and deep intrenchments. "Here," said he, "I should hope the enemy, in case of attack, would meet a defeat, if the generality of our troops would behave with tolerable bravery; but experience, to my extreme affliction, has convinced me that it is rather to be wished than expected. However, I trust there are many who will act like men worthy of the blessings of freedom." The late disgraceful scene at Kip's Bay was evidently rankling in his mind.

*The portrait of Miss Mary Philipse is still to be seen in the possession of Frederick Phillips, Esquire, at the Grange, on the Highlands opposite West Point.

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