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LEE'S LETTER TO CONGRESS-THE ENEMY AT THROG'S NECK.

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for, if we cannot fight them on this ground, we can on none in America. The ships are the only circumstances unfavorable to us here." On the same day that this letter was written, a small vessel, sloop-rigged, with a topsail, was descried from Mount Washington, coming down the river with a fresh breeze. It was suspected by those on the look-out to be one of the British tenders, and they gave it a shot from a twelve-pounder. Their aim was unfortunately too true. Three of the crew were killed, and the captain wounded. It proved to be Wash-ington's army cannot possibly keep pace with ington's yacht, which had run up the river previously to the enemy's ships, and was now on its return.*

| leave four or five thousand men, and direct their operations to a more decisive object. They will infallibly proceed either immediately up the river Delaware with their whole troops, or what is more probable, land somewhere about South Amboy or Shrewsbury, and march straight to Trenton or Burlington. On the supposition that this will be the case, what are we to do? What force have we? What means have we to prevent their possessing themselves of Philadelphia? General Wash

CHAPTER XXXVI.

"Ir General Lee should be in Philadelphia," writes John Jay to Rutledge, "pray hasten his departure—he is much wanted at New York."

The successes of Lee at the South were con

trasted by many with the defeat on Long Island, and evacuation of New York, and they began to consider him the main hope of the army. Hazard, the postmaster, writing from Harlem Heights to General Gates on the 11th, laments

it as a misfortune that Lee should have been to the southward for several months past, but adds cheeringly, "he is expected here to-day." Joseph Trumbull, the commissary-general, also writes to Gates under the same date: "General Lee is to be here this evening. He left Philadelphia on the 8th."

Lee, the object of so many hopes, was actu ally in the Jerseys, on his way to the camp. He writes from Amboy on the 12th, to the President of Congress, informing him that the Hessians, encamped opposite on Staten Island, had disappeared on the preceding night, quitting the island entirely, and some great measure was believed to be in agitation. "I am confident," writes he, "they will not attack General Washington's lines; such a measure is too absurd for a man of Mr. Howe's genius; and unless they have received flattering accounts from Burgoyne, that he will be able to effectuate a junction (which I conceive they have not), they will no longer remain kicking their heels at New York. They will put the place in a respectable state of defence, which, with their command of the waters, may be easily done,

*Heath's Memoirs.

them. The length of his route is not only infinitely greater, but his obstructions almost insuperable. In short, before he could cross Hudson River, they might be lodged and strongly fortified on both banks of the DelaFor Heaven's sake, arouse yourselves! For Heaven's sake, let ten thousand somewhere about Trenton. In my opinion, men be immediately assembled, and stationed

ware.

* *

your whole depends upon it. I set out immediately for head-quarters, where I shall comthe next operation of the enemy, and urge the municate my apprehension that such will be expediency of sparing a part of his army (if he has any to spare) for this object." *

On the very morning that Lee was writing this letter at Amboy, Washington received intelligence by express from General Heath, stationed above King's Bridge, that the enemy were landing with artillery on Throg's Neckt in the Sound, about nine miles from the camp. Washington surmised that Howe was pursuing his original plan of getting to the rear of the American army, cutting off its supplies, which were chiefly derived from the East, and interrupting its communication with the main country. Officers were ordered to their alarm posts, and the troops to be ready, under arms, to act as occasion might require. Word, at the same time, was sent to General Heath to dispose of the troops on his side of King's Bridge, and of two militia regiments posted on the banks of Harlem River opposite the camp, in such manner as he should think necessary.

Having made all his arrangements as promptly as possible, Washington mounted his horse, and rode over towards Throg's Neck to reconnoitre.

Throg's Neck is a peninsula in Westchester County, stretching upwards of two miles into

Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 1008.

† Properly Throck's Neck, from Throckmorton, the name of the original proprietor.

ET. 44.]

WASHINGTON'S ARRANGEMENTS ARRIVAL OF LEE.

the Sound. It was separated from the mainland by a narrow creek and a marsh, and was surrounded by water every high tide. A bridge across a creek connecting with a ruined causeway across the marsh, led to the mainland, and the upper end of the creek was fordable at low water. Early in the morning, eighty or ninety boats full of men had stood up the Sound from Montresor's Island, and Long Island, and had landed troops to the number of four thousand on Throg's Point, the extremity of the neck. Thence their advance pushed forward toward the causeway and bridge to secure that pass to the mainland. General Heath had been too rapid for them. Colonel IIand and his Philadelphia riflemen, the same who had checked the British advance on Long Island, had taken up the planks of the bridge, and posted themselves opposite the end of the causeway, whence they commenced firing with their rifles. They were soon reinforced by Colonel Prescott, of Bunker's Hill renown, with his regiment, and Lieutenant Bryant of the artillery, with a threepounder. Checked at this pass, the British moved toward the head of the creek; here they found the Americans in possession of the ford, where they were reinforced by Colonel Graham, of the New York line, with his regiment, and Lieutenant Jackson of the artillery, with a sixpounder. These skilful dispositions of his troops by General Heath had brought the enemy to a stand. By the time Washington arrived in the vicinity, the British had encamped on the neck; the riflemen and yagers keeping up a scattering fire at each other across the marsh; and Captain Bryant now and then saluting the enemy with his field-piece.

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Greene, who had heard of the landing of the enemy at Throg's Neck, wrote over to Washington, from Fort Constitution, informing him that he had three brigades ready to join him if required. If the troops are wanted over your side," said he, or likely to be so, they should be got over in the latter part of the night, as the shipping may move up from below, and impede, if not totally stop the troops from passing.' "The tents upon Staten Island," he added, "had all been struck, as far as could be ascertained." It was plain the whole scene of action was changing.

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On the 14th, General Lee arrived in camp, where he was welcomed as the harbinger of good luck. Washington was absent, visiting the posts beyond King's Bridge, and the passes leading from Throg's Neck; Lee immediately rode forth to join him. No one gave him a sincerer greeting than the commander-in-chief; who, diffident of his own military knowledge, had a high opinion of that of Lee. He immediately gave him command of the troops above King's Bridge, now the greatest part of the army, but desired that he would not exercise it for a day or two, until he had time to acquaint himself with the localities and arrangements of the post; Heath, in the interim, held the command.

Lee was evidently elevated by his successes at the South, and disposed to criticize disparagingly the military operations of other commanders. In a letter, written on the day of his arrival to his old associate in arms, General Gates, he condemns the position of the army, and censures Washington for subinitting to the dictation of Congress, whose meddlesome inHaving surveyed the ground, Washington structions had produced it. "Inter nos," writes ordered works to be thrown up at the passes he, "the Congress seem to stumble every step. from the neck to the mainland. The British I do not mean one or two of the cattle, but also threw up a work at the end of the cause- the whole stable. I have been very free in deway. In the afternoon nine ships, with a great livering my opinion to them. In my opinion number of schooners, sloops, and flat-bottomed General Washington is much to blame in not boats full of men, passed through Hell Gate menacing 'em with resignation unless they retoward Throg's Point; and information re-frain from unhinging the army by their absurd ceived from two deserters, gave Washington reason to believe that the greater part of the enemy's forces were gathering in that quarter. General McDougall's brigade, in which were Colonel Smallwood and the independent companies, was sent in the evening to strengthen Heath's division at King's Bridge, and to throw up works opposite the ford of Harlem River.

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 1038.

interference.

it.

"Keep us Ticonderoga; much depends upon We ought to have an army in the Delaware. I have roared it in the ears of Congress, but carent auribus. Adieu, my dear friend; if we do meet again-why, we shall smile."*

In the mean time, Congress, on the 11th of October, having heard of the ingress of the

* Am. Archives, 5th Series, ii. 1038.

284

COUNCIL OF WAR-POPULARITY OF LEE.

Phoenix, Roebuck, and Tartar, passed a resolution that General Washington be desired, if it be practicable, by every art, and at whatever expense, to obstruct effectually the navigation of the North River between Fort Washington and Mount Constitution, as well to prevent the regress of the enemy's vessels lately gone up as to hinder them from receiving succors.

Under so many conflicting circumstances, Washington held a council of war on the 16th, at Lee's head-quarters, at which all the majorgenerals were present excepting Greene, and all the brigadiers, as well as Colonel Knox, who commanded the artillery. Letters from the Convention and from individual members of it were read, concerning the turbulence of the disaffected in the upper parts of the State; intelligence gained from deserters was likewise stated, showing the intention of the enemy to surround the camp. The policy was then discussed of remaining in their present position on Manhattan Island, and awaiting there the menaced attack: the strength of the position was urged; its being well fortified, and extremely difficult of access. Lee, in reply, scoffed at the idea of a position being good merely because its approaches were difficult. How could they think of holding a position where the enemy were so strong in front and rear; where ships had the command of the water on each side, and where King's Bridge was their only pass by which to escape from being wholly enclosed? Had not their recent experience on Long Island and at New York taught them the danger of such positions? "For my part," said he, "I would have nothing to do with the islands to which you have been clinging so pertinaciously I would give Mr. Howe a fee-simple of them."

"After much consideration and debate," says the record of the council, "the following question was stated: Whether (it having appeared that the obstructions in the North River have proved insufficient, and that the enemy's whole force is now in our rear on Frog Point) it is now deemed impossible, in our situation, to prevent the enemy from cutting off the communication with the country, and compelling us to fight them at all disadvantages, or surrender prisoners at discretion?"

All agreed, with but one dissenting voice, that it was not possible to prevent the communication from being cut off, and that one of the consequences mentioned in the question must follow.

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The dissenting voice was that of General George Clinton, a brave, downright man, but little versed in the science of warfare. He could not comprehend the policy of abandoning so strong a position; they were equal in number to the enemy, and, as they must fight them somewhere, could do it to more advantage there than anywhere else. Clinton felt as a guardian of the Hudson and the upper country, and wished to meet the enemy, as it were, at the very threshold.

As the resolve of Congress seemed imperative with regard to Fort Washington, that post, it was agreed, should be "retained as long as possible."

A strong garrison was accordingly placed in it, composed chiefly of troops from Magaw's and Shee's Pennsylvania regiments, the latter under Lieutenant-Colonel Lambert Cadwalader, of Philadelphia. Shee having obtained leave of absence, Colonel Magaw was put in command of the post, and solemnly charged by Washington to defend it to the last extremity. The name of the opposite post on the Jersey shore, where Greene was stationed, was changed from Fort Constitution to Fort Lee, in honor of the general. Lee, in fact, was the military idol of the day. Even the family of the commanderin-chief joined in paying him homage. Colonel Tench Tilghman, Washington's aide-de-camp, in a letter to a friend, writes: "You ask if General Lee is in health, and our people bold. I answer both in the affirmative. His appearance amongst us has contributed not a little to the latter."

CHAPTER XXXVII.

PREVIOUS to decamping from Manhattan Island, Washington formed four divisions of the army, which were respectively assigned to Generals Lee, Heath, Sullivan (recently obtained in exchange for General Prescott), and Lincoln. Lee was stationed on Valentine's Hill, on the mainland, immediately opposite King's Bridge, to cover the transportation across it of the military stores and heavy baggage. The other divisions were to form a chain of fortified posts, extending about thirteen miles along a ridge of hills on the west side of the Bronx, from Lee's camp up to the village of White Plains.

Washington's head-quarters continued to be

ÆT. 44.]

SKIRMISH OF COLONEL GLOVER-TROOPERS IN A ROUGH COUNTRY.

285

on Harlem Heights for several days, during | Sound. At the latter place was posted Colonel which time he was continually in the saddle, Rogers, the renegade, as he was called, with riding about a broken, woody, and half-wild the Queen's Rangers, his newly-raised corps of country, forming posts, and choosing sites for loyalists. breast works and redoubts. By his skilful disposition of the army, it was protected in its whole length by the Bronx, a narrow but deep stream, fringed with trees, which ran along the foot of the ridge; at the same time his troops faced and outflanked the enemy, and covered the roads along which stores and baggage had to be transported. On the 21st, he shifted his head-quarters to Valentine's Hill, and on the 23d to White Plains, where he stationed himself in a fortified camp.

While he was thus incessantly in action, General, now Sir William Howe (having recently, in reward for his services, been made a knight companion of the Bath), remained for six days passive in his camp on Throg's Point, awaiting the arrival of supplies and reinforcements, instead of pushing across to the Hudson, and throwing himself between Washington's army and the upper country. His inaction lost him a golden opportunity. By the time his supplies arrived, the Americans had broken up the causeway leading to the mainland, and taken positions too strong to be easily forced.

Finding himself headed in this direction, Sir William re-embarked part of his troops in flatboats on the 18th, crossed Eastchester Bay, and landed on Pell's Point, at the mouth of Hutchinson's River. Here he was joined in a few hours by the main body, with the baggage and artillery, and proceeded through the manor of Pelliam towards New Rochelle; still with a view to get above Washington's army.

Hearing of this, Lord Stirling resolved, if possible, to cut off this outpost and entrap the old hunter. Colonel Haslet, of his brigade, always prompt on such occasions, undertook the exploit at the head of seven hundred and fifty Delaware troops, who had fought so bravely on Long Island. With these he crossed the line of the British march; came undiscovered upon the post; drove in the guard; killed a lieutenant and several men, and brought away thirty-six prisoners, with a pair of colors, sixty stands of arms, and other spoils. He missed the main prize, however: Rogers skulked off in the dark at the first fire. He was too old a partisan to be easily entrapped.

For this exploit, Colonel Haslet and his men were publicly thanked by Lord Stirling, on parade.

These, and other spirited and successful skirmishes, while they retarded the advance of the enemy, had the far more important effect of exercising and animating the American troops, and accustoming them to danger.

While in this neighborhood, Howe was reinforced by a second division of Hessians under General Knyphausen, and a regiment of Waldeckers, both of which had recently arrived in New York. Ile was joined, also, by the whole of the seventeenth light-dragoons, and a part of the sixteenth, which had arrived on the 3d in. stant from Ireland, with Lieutenant-Colonel (afterward Earl) Harcourt. Some of their horses had been brought with them across the sea, others had been procured since their ar

The Americans at first regarded these troopers with great dread. Washington, therefore, took pains to convince them, that in a rough, broken country, like the present, full of stone fences, no troops were so inefficient as cavalry. They could be waylaid and picked off by sharpshooters from behind walls and thickets, while they could not leave the road to pursue their covert foe.

In their march, the British were waylaid and harassed by Colonel Glover of Massachu- | rival. setts, with his own, Reed's, and Shepard's regiments of infantry. Twice the British advance guards were thrown into confusion, and driven back with severe loss, by a sharp fire from behind stone fences. A third time they advanced in solid columns. The Americans gave them repeated volleys, and then retreated with the loss of eight killed and thirteen wounded, among whom was Colonel Shepard. Colonel Glover, and the officers and soldiers who were with him in this skirmish, received the public thanks of Washington for their merit and good behavior.

On the 21st, General Howe was encamped about two miles north of New Rochelle, with his outposts extending to Mamaroneck on the

Further to inspirit them against this new enemy, he proclaimed, in general orders, a reward of one hundred dollars for every trooper brought in with his horse and accoutrements, and so on, in proportion to the completeness of the capture.

On the 25th, about two o'clock in the after

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286

ALARMS AT WHITE PLAINS-FORTIFIED CAMP.

noon, intelligence was brought to head-quarters that three or four detachments of the enemy were on the march, within four miles of the camp, and the main army following in columns. The drums beat to arms; the men were ordered to their posts; an attack was expected. The day passed away, however, without any demonstration of the enemy. Howe detached none of his force on lateral expeditions, evidently meditating a general engagement. To prepare for it, Washington drew all his troops from the posts along the Bronx into the fortified camp at White Plains. Here every thing remained quiet but expectant, throughout the 26th. In the morning of the 27th, which was Sunday, the heavy booming of cannon was heard from a distance, seemingly in the direction of Fort Washington. Scouts galloped off to gain intelligence. We will anticipate their report.

Two of the British frigates, at seven o'clock in the morning, had moved up the Hudson, and come to anchor near Bourdett's Ferry, below the Morris House, Washington's old head-quarters, apparently with the intention of stopping the ferry, and cutting off the communication between Fort Lee and Fort Washington. At the same time, troops made their appearance on Harlem Plains, where Lord Percy held command. Colonel Morgan immediately manned the lines with troops from the garrison of Fort Washington. The ships opened a fire to enfilade and dislodge them. A barbette battery on the cliffs of the Jersey shore, to the left of the ferry, fired down upon the frigates, but with little effect. Colonel Magaw got down an eighteen-pounder to the lines near the Morris House, and fired fifty or sixty rounds, two balls at a time. Two eighteen-pounders were likewise brought down from Fort Lee, and planted opposite the ships. By the fire from both shores they were hulled repeatedly.

It was the thundering of these cannonades which had reached Washington's camp at White Plains, and even startled the Highlands of the Hudson. The ships soon hoisted all sail. The foremost slipped her cable, and appeared to be in the greatest confusion. She could make no way, though towed by two boats. The other ship seeing her distress, sent two barges to her assistance, and by the four boats she was dragged out of reach of the American fire, her pumps going all the time. "Had the tide been flood one half hour longer," writes General Greene, 66 we should have sunk her."

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At the time that the fire from the ships began, Lord Percy brought up his field-pieces and mortars, and made an attack upon the lines. He was resolutely answered by the troops sent down from Fort Washington, and several Hessians were killed. An occasional firing was kept up until evening, when the ships fell down the river, and the troops which had advanced on Harlem Plains drew within their lines again.

"We take this day's movement to be only a feint," writes one of the garrison at Fort Lee; "at any rate, it is little honorable to the red coats." Its chief effect was to startle the distant camp, and astound a quiet country with the thundering din of war.

The celebrated Thomas Paine, author of "The Rights of Man," and other political works, was a spectator of the affair from the rocky summit of the Palisades, on the Jersey shore.

While these things were passing at Fort Washington, Lee had struck his tents, and with the rear division, eight thousand strong, the baggage and artillery, and a train of waggons four miles long, laden with stores and aminunition, was lumbering along the rough country roads to join the main army. It was not until Monday morning, after being on the road all night, that he arrived at White Plains. Washington's camp was situated on high ground, facing the east. The right wing stretched towards the south along a rocky hill, at the foot of which the Bronx, making an elbow, protected it in flank and rear. The left wing rested on a small deep lake among the hills. The camp was strongly intrenched in front.

About a quarter of a mile to the right of the camp, and separated from the height on which it stood by the Bronx and a marshy interval, was a corresponding height called Chatterton's Hill. As this partly commanded the right flank, and as the intervening bend of the Bronx was easily passable, Washington had stationed on its summit a militia regiment.

The whole encampment was a temporary one, to be changed as soon as the military stores collected there could be removed; and now that General Lee was arrived, Washington rode out with him and other general officers who were off duty, to reconnoitre a height which appeared more eligible. When arrived at it, Lee pointed to another on the north, still more commanding. "Yonder," said he, "is

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