Slike strani


of Washington, immediately wrote to him on the subject. "This conduct of the person who represents you on your estate," writes he, "must certainly produce a bad effect, and contrast with the courageous replies of some of your neighbors, whose houses in consequence have been burnt. You will do what you think proper, my dear general, but friendship makes it my duty to give you confidentially the facts."

Washington, however, had previously received a letter from Lund himself, stating all the circumstances of the case, and had immediately written him a reply. He had no doubt that Lund had acted from his best judgment, and with a view to preserve the property and buildings from impending danger, but he was stung to the quick by the idea that his agent should go on board of the enemy's vessels, carry them refreshments, and " commune with a parcel of plundering scoundrels," as he termed them. "It would have been a less painful circumstance to me to have heard," writes he, "that in consequence of your noncompliance with their request, they had burnt my house and laid my plantation in ruins. You ought to have considered yourself as my representative, and should have reflected on the bad example of communicating with the enemy and making a voluntary offer of refreshments to them, with a view to prevent a conflagration."

In concluding his letter, he expresses his opinion that it was the intention of the enemy to prosecute the plundering plan they had begun; and that it would end in the destruction of his property, but adds, that he is "prepared for the event." He advises his agent to deposit the most valuable and least bulky articles in a place of safety. "Such and so many things as are necessary for common and present use must be retained, and must run their chance through the fiery trial of this summer."

Such were the steadfast purposes of Washington's mind when war was brought home to his door, and threatening his earthly paradise of Mount Vernon.


this moment, was, that it put the traitor, Arnold, once more in the general command.

He held it, however, but for a short time, as Lord Cornwallis arrived at Petersburg on the 20th of May, after nearly a month's weary marching from Wilmington. His lordship, on taking command, found his force augmented by a considerable detachment of royal artillery, two battalions of light infantry, the 76th and 80th British regiments, a Hessian regiment, Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe's corps of Queen's rangers, cavalry and infantry, one hundred yagers, Arnold's legion of royalists, and the garrison of Portsmouth. He was cheered also by intelligence that Lord Rawdon had obtained an advantage over General Greene before Camden, and that three British regiments had sailed from Cork for Charleston. His mind, we are told, was now set at ease with regard to Southern affairs; his spirits, so long jaded by his harassing tramps about the Carolinas, were again lifted up by his augmented strength, and Tarleton assures us, that his lordship indulged in "brilliant hopes of a glorious campaign in those parts of America where he commanded."* How far these hopes were realized, we shall show in a future page.


WHILE affairs were approaching a crisis in Virginia, troubles were threatening from the North. There were rumors of invasion from Canada; of war councils and leagues among the savage tribes; of a revival of the territorial feuds between New York and Vermont. Such, however, was the deplorable inefficiency of the military system, that though, according to the resolves of Congress, there were to have been thirty-seven thousand men under arms at the beginning of the year, Washington's whole force on the Hudson in the month of May did not amount to seven thousand men, of whom little more than four thousand were effective.

He still had his head-quarters at New WindIn the mean time the desolating career of General Phillips was brought to a close. He miles of West Point. Here he received intellisor, just above the Highlands, and within a few had been ill for some days previous to his arrival at Petersburg, and by the time he reached gence that the enemy were in force on the opthere, was no longer capable of giving orders. posite side of the Hudson, marauding the counHe died four days afterwards; honored and try on the north side of Croton River, and he deeply regretted by his brothers in arms, as a in that direction. ordered a hasty advance of Connecticut troops meritorious and well-tried soldier. What made his death to be more sensibly felt by them at

*Tarleton. History of the Campaign, p. 291.





It is said that Colonel Delancey was not present at the carnage, but remained on the south side of the Croton to secure the retreat of his party. It may be so; but the present exploit was in the spirit of others by which he had contributed to harry this beautiful region, and made it a "bloody ground." No foes so ruthless had the American patriots to encounter as their own tory countrymen in arms.

The Croton River flows from east to west | killed and wounded, and several made prisonacross Westchester County, and formed as it ers. were the barrier of the American lines. The advanced posts of Washington's army guarded it, and by its aid, protected the upper country from the incursions of those foraging parties and marauders which had desolated the neutral ground below it. The incursions most to be guarded against were those of Colonel Delancey's loyalists, a horde of tories and refugees which had their stronghold in Morrisania, and were the terror of the neighboring country. There was a petty war continually going on between them and the American outposts, often of a ruthless kind. Delancey's horse and De-ed to carry off Greene a prisoner, but he died lancey's rangers scoured the country, and swept off forage and cattle from its fertile valleys for the British army at New York. Hence they were sometimes stigmatized by the opprobrious appellation of Cow Boys.

The object of their present incursion was to surprise an outpost of the American army stationed near a fordable part of the Croton River, not far from Pine's Bridge. The post was commanded by Colonel Christopher Greene, of Rhode Island, the same who had successfully defended Fort Mercer on the Delaware, when assailed by Count Donop. He was a valuable officer, highly prized by Washington. The enterprise against his post was something like that against the post of Young's House; both had been checks to the foragers of this harassed region.

Colonel Delancey, who led this foray, was successor to the unfortunate André as Adjutant-general of the British army. He conducted it secretly, and in the night, at the head of a hundred horse and two hundred foot. The Croton was forded at daybreak, just as the night-guard had been withdrawn, and the farm houses were surprised and assailed in which the Americans were quartered. That occupied by Colonel Greene and a brother officer, Major Flagg, was first surrounded. The Major started from his bed, and discharged his pistols from a window, but was shot through the head, and afterwards despatched by cuts and thrusts of the sabre.

The door of Greene's room was burst open. He defended himself vigorously and effectively with his sword, for he had great strength, but he was overpowered by numbers, cut down, and barbarously mangled. A massacre was going on in other quarters. Besides these two officers, there were between thirty and forty

Before the troops ordered out by Washington arrived at the post, the marauders had made a precipitate retreat. They had attempt

within three-quarters of a mile of the house. His captors, as they passed by the farm houses, told the inhabitants that, should there be any inquiry after the colonel, they had left him dead at the edge of the woods.*

Greene was but forty-four years of age at the time of his death, and was a model of manly strength and comeliness. A true soldier of the Revolution, he had served at Lexington and Bunker's Hill; followed Arnold through the Kennebec wilderness to Quebec; fought under the walls of that city; distinguished himself by his defence of Fort Mercer on the Delaware, and by his kind treatment of his vanquished and wounded antagonist, Colonel Donop. How different the treatment experienced by him at the hands of his tory country


The commander-in-chief, we are told, heard with anguish and indignation the tragical fate of this his faithful friend and soldier. On the subsequent day, the corpse of Colonel Greene was brought to head-quarters, and his funeral solemnized with military honors and universal grief.t

At this juncture Washington's attention was called in another direction. A frigate had arrived at Boston, bringing the Count de Barras, to take command of the French naval force. He was a veteran about sixty years of age, and had commanded D'Estaing's vanguard, when he forced the entrance of Newport harbor. The count brought the cheering intelligence, that an armament of twenty ships of the line, with land forces, was to sail, or had sailed, from France, under the Count de Grasse for the West Indies, and that twelve of these ships

Letter of Paymaster Hughes. See Bolton's Westchester Co., vol. ii., p. 94.

t Lee's Memoirs of the War, vol. i., p. 407.


were to relieve the squadron at Newport, and | and recently appointed superintendent of might be expected on the coast of the United finance. This patriotic and energetic man, States in July or August.

The Count de Rochambeau, having received despatches from the court of France, now requested an interview with Washington. The latter appointed Weathersfield in Connecticut for the purpose; and met the count there on the 22d of May, hoping to settle a definitive plan of the campaign. Both as yet were ignorant of the arrival of Cornwallis in Virginia. The policy of a joint expedition to relieve the Carolinas was discussed. As the French ships in Newport were still blockaded by a superior force, such an expedition would have to be made by land. A march to the Southern States was long and harassing, and always attended with a great waste of life. Such would certainly be the case at present, when it would have to be made in the heat of sunimer. The difficulties and expenses of land transportation, also, presented a formidable objection.


On the other hand, an effective blow might be struck at New York, the garrison having been reduced one-half by detachments to the South. That important post and its dependencies might be wrested from the enemy, or, if not, they might be obliged to recall a part of their force from the South for their own defence.

It was determined, therefore, that the French troops should march from Newport as soon as possible, and form a junction with the American army on the Hudson, and that both should move down to the vicinity of New York to make a combined attack, in which the Count de Grasse should be invited to co-operate with his fleet and a body of land troops.

when public means failed, pledged his own
credit in transporting military stores and feeding
the army. Throughout the Revolution, Wash-
ington was continually baffled in his hopes
caused by the resolutions of legislative bod-
ies, too often as little alimentary as the east

The Count de Rochambeau and the Duke de
Lauzun being arrived with their troops in Con-
necticut, on their way to join the American
army, Washington prepared for spirited opera-
tions; quickened by the intelligence that a part
of the garrison of New York had been detached
to forage the Jerseys. Two objects were con-
templated by him: one, the surprisal of the
British works at the north end of New York
Island; the other, the capture or destruction
of Delancey's corps of refugees in Morrisania.
The attack upon the posts was to be conducted
by General Lincoln, with a detachment from
the main army, which he was to bring down
by water-that on Delancey's corps by the
Duke de Lauzun with his legion, aided by
Sheldon's dragoons, and a body of Connecticut,
troops. Both operations were to be carried
into effect on the 3d of July. The duke was to
march down from Ridgebury in Connecticut,
for the purpose. Every thing was to be con-
ducted with secrecy and by the way of sur-
prisal. Should any thing occur to prevent
Lincoln from attempting the works on New
York Island, he was to land his men above
Spyt den Duivel Creek, march to the high
grounds in front of King's Bridge, lie concealed
there until the duke's attack on Delancey's
corps should be announced by firing or other
means; then to dispose of his force in such
manner as to make the enemy think it larger
than it really was; thereby deterring troops
from coming over the bridge to turn Lauzun's
right, while he prevented the escape over the
bridge of Delancey's refugees when routed
from Morrisania.

A vessel was despatched by De Rochambeau, to inform the Count de Grasse of this arrangement; and letters were addressed by Washington to the executive authorities of New Jersey and the New England States, urging them to fill up their battalions and furnish their quotas of provisions. Notwithstanding all his exertions, however, when he mustered his forces at Washington, at the same time, wrote a confiPeekskill, he was mortified to find not more dential letter to Governor Clinton, informing than five thousand effective men. Notwith-him of designs upon the enemy's posts. "Should standing, too, all the resolutions passed in the we be happy enough to succeed," writes he, legislatures of the various States for supplying" and be able to hold our conquest, the advanthe army, it would, at this critical moment, have been destitute of provisions, especially bread, had it not been for the zeal, talents, and activity of Mr. Robert Morris, now a delegate to Congress from the State of Pennsylvania,

tages will be greater than can well be imagined.
But I cannot flatter myself that the enemy will
permit the latter, unless I am suddenly and
considerably reinforced. I shall march down
the remainder of this army, and I have hopes

[ocr errors]




that the French force will be near at hand at | scour the country. An irregular skirmish enthe time. But I shall, notwithstanding, direct sued. The firing was heard by the Duke de the alarm-guns and beacons to be fired in case of success; and I have to request that your Excellency will, upon such signals, communicate the meaning of them to the militia, and put yourself at the head of them, and march with the utmost expedition to King's Bridge, bringing with you three or four days' provision at least."

Lauzun, who was just arrived with his troops at Eastchester, fatigued by a long and forced march in sultry weather. Finding the country alarmed, and all hope of surprising Delancey's corps at an end, he hastened to the support of Lincoln. Washington also advanced with his troops from Valentine's Hill. The British, perceiving their danger, retreated to their It was a service which would have been ex- boats on the east side of Harlem River, and actly to the humor of George Clinton.

In pursuance of the plan, Lincoln left the camp near Peekskill on the 1st, with eight hundred men, and artillery, and proceeded to Teller's Point, where they were embarked in boats with muffled oars, and rowed silently at night down the Tappan Sea, that region of mystery and secret enterprise. At daylight they kept concealed under the land. The Duke de Lauzun was supposed, at the same time, to be on the way from Connecticut. Washington, at three o'clock on the morning of the 2d, left his tents standing at Peekskill, and commenced his march with his main force, without baggage; making a brief halt at Croton Bridge, about nine miles from Peekskill; another at the Sleepy Hollow Church, near Tarrytown, where he halted until dusk, and completed the rest of his march in the night, to Valentine's Hill, four miles above King's Bridge, where he arrived about sunrise. There he posted himself to cover the detached troops, and improve any advantages that might be gained by them.

crossed over to New York Island. A trifling loss in killed and wounded had been sustained on each side, and Lincoln had made a few prisoners.

Being disappointed in both objects, Washington did not care to fatigue his troops any more, but suffered them to remain on their arms, and spent a good part of the day reconnoitring the enemy's works. In the afternoon he retired to Valentine's Hill, and the next day marched to Dobbs' Ferry, where he was joined by the Count de Rochambeau on the 6th of July. The two armies now encamped; the Americans in two lines, resting on the Hudson at Dobbs' Ferry, where it was covered by batteries, and extending eastward toward the Neperan or Sawmill River; the French in a single line on the hills further east, reaching to the Bronx River. The beautiful valley of the Neperan intervened between the encampments. It was a lovely country for a summer encampment; breezy hills commanding wide prospects; umbrageous valleys, watered by bright pastoral streams, the Bronx, the Spraine, and the NepLincoln, on the morning of the 2d, had left eran, and abounding with never-failing springs. his flotilla concealed under the eastern shore, The French encampment made a gallant display and crossed to Fort Lee to reconnoitre Fort along the Greenburgh hills. Some of the ofWashington from the cliffs on the opposite side ficers, young men of rank, to whom this was of the Hudson. To his surprise and chagrin, all a service of romance, took a pride in decohe discovered a British force encamped on the rating their tents, and forming little gardens in north end of New York Island, and a ship-of-their vicinity. "We have a charming position war anchored in the river. In fact, the troops which had been detached into the Jerseys, had returned, and the enemy were on the alert; the surprisal of the forts, therefore, was out of the question.

Lincoln's thoughts now were to aid the Duke de Lauzun's part of the scheme, as he had been instructed. Before daylight of the 3d, he landed his troops above Spyt den Duivel Creek, and took possession of the high ground on the north of Harlem River, where Fort Independence once stood. Here he was discovered by a foraging party of the enemy, fifteen hundred strong, who had sallied out at daybreak to

among rocks and under magnificent tulip trees; "writes one of them, the Count Dumas. General Washington was an object of their enthusiasm. He visited the tents they had so gayly embellished; for, with all his gravity, he was fond of the company of young men. They were apprised of his coming, and set out on their camp-tables plans of the battle of Trenton; of West Point, and other scenes connected with the war. The greatest harmony prevailed between the armies. The two commanders had their respective head-quarters in farm houses, and occasionally, on festive occasions, long tables were spread in the adjacent

« PrejšnjaNaprej »