Slike strani




having had a horse killed under him, was pre- | passes of the Schuylkill, with orders to throw sented by Congress with another, as a testi- up works; the floating bridge on the lower monial of their sense of his merit. road was to be unmoored, and the boats collected and taken across the river.

Lafayette speaks, in his memoirs, of the brilliant manner in which General Conway, the chevalier of St. Louis, acquitted himself at the head of eight hundred men, in the encounter with the troops of Cornwallis near Birmingham meeting-house. The veteran Deborre was not equally fortunate in gaining distinction on this occasion. In the awkward change of position in the line when in front of the enemy, he had been the first to move, and without waiting for orders. The consequence was, his brigade fell into confusion, and was put to flight. He endeavored to rally it, and was wounded in the attempt; but his efforts were in vain. Congress ordered a court of inquiry on his conduct, whereupon he resigned his commission, and returned to France, complaining bitterly of his hard treatment. "It was not his fault," he said, "if American troops would run away."


NOTWITHSTANDING the rout and precipitate retreat of the American army, Sir William Howe did not press the pursuit, but passed the night on the field of battle, and remained the two following days at Dilworth, sending out detachments to take post at Concord and Chester, and seize on Wilmington, whither the sick and wounded were conveyed. "Had the enemy marched directly to Derby," observes Lafayette, the American army would have been cut up and destroyed; they lost a precious night, and it is perhaps the greatest fault in a war in which they have committed

[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Washington, as usual, profited by the inactivity of Howe; quietly retreating through Derby (on the 12th) across the Schuylkill to Germantown, within a short distance of Philadelphia, where he gave his troops a day's repose. Finding them in good spirits, and in nowise disheartened by the recent affair, which they seemed to consider a check rather than a defeat, he resolved to seek the enemy again and give him battle. As preliminary measures, he left some of the Pennsylvania militia in Philadelphia to guard the city; others, under General Armstrong, were posted at the various *Memoirs, Tom. i., r. 26.

Having taken these precautions against any hostile movement by the lower road, Washington recrossed the Schuylkill, on the 14th, and advanced along the Lancaster road, with the intention of turning the left flank of the enemy. Howe, apprised of his intention, made a similar disposition to outflank him. The two armies came in sight of each other near the Warren Tavern, twenty three miles from Philadelphia, and were on the point of engaging, but were prevented by a violent storm of rain which lasted for four and twenty hours.

This inclement weather was particularly distressing to the Americans; who were scantily clothed, most of them destitute of blankets, and separated from their tents and baggage. The rain penetrated their cartridge-boxes and the ill-fitted locks of their muskets, rendering the latter useless, being deficient in bayonets. In this plight, Washington gave up for the present all thought of attacking the enemy, as their discipline in the use of the bayonet, with which they were universally furnished, would give them a great superiority in action. "The hotheaded politicians," writes one of his officers, "will no doubt censure this part of his conduct, while the more judicious will approve it, as not only expedient, but, in such a case, highly commendable. It was, without doubt, chagrining to a person of his fine feelings, to retreat before an enemy not more in number than himself; yet, with a true greatness of spirit, he sacrificed them to the good of his country." * There was evidently a growing disposition again to criticize Washington's movements, yet how well did this officer judge of him.

The only aim, at present, was to get to some dry and secure place, where the army might repose and refit. All day, and for a great part of the night, they marched under a cold and pelting rain, and through deep and miry roads, to the Yellow Springs, thence to Warwick, on French Creek; a weary march in stormy weather for troops destitute of every comfort, and nearly a thousand of them actually barefooted. At Warwick furnace, ammunition and a few muskets were obtained, to aid in disputing the passage of the Schuylkill, and the advance of the enemy on Philadelphia.

*Memoir of Major Samuel Shaw, by Hon. Josiah Quincy.

ET. 45.]


From French Creek, Wayne was detached with his division, to get in the rear of the enemy, form a junction with General Smallwood and the Maryland militia, and, keeping themselves concealed, watch for an opportunity to cut off Howe's baggage and hospital train; in the mean time, Washington crossed the Schuylkill at Parker's Ford, and took a position to defend that pass of the river.


at the point of the bayonet-the enemy were advancing in column. Wayne instantly took post on the right of his position, to cover the retreat of the left, led by Colonel Hampton, the second in command. The latter was tardy, and incautiously paraded his troops in front of their fires, so as to be in full relief. The enemy rushed on without firing a gun; all was the silent, but deadly work of the bayonet and the cutlass. Nearly three hundred of Hampton's men were killed or wounded, and the rest put to flight. Wayne gave the enemy some well

distance, rallied his troops, and prepared for further defence. The British, however, contented themselves with the blow they had given, and retired with very little loss, taking with them between seventy and eighty prisoners, several of them officers, and eight baggage waggons, heavily laden.

Wayne set off in the night, and, by a circuitous march, got within three miles of the left wing of the British encamped at Trydraffin, and concealing himself in a wood, waited the ar-directed volleys, and then retreating to a small rival of Smallwood and his militia. At daybreak he reconnoitred the camp, where Howe, checked by the severity of the weather, had contented himself with uniting his columns, and remained under shelter. All day Wayne hovered about the camp; there were no signs of marching; all kept quiet, but lay too compact to be attacked with prudence. He sent repeated messages to Washington, describing the sit-operated with Wayne, was within a mile of uation of the enemy, and urging him to come on and attack them in their camp. "Their supineness," said he in one of his notes, answers every purpose of giving you time to get up: if they attempt to move, I shall attack them at all events. * * * * There never was, nor never will be, a finer opportunity of giving the enemy a fatal blow than at present. For God's sake push on as fast as possible."

[ocr errors]

Again, at a later hour, he writes: "The enemy are very quiet, washing and cooking. I expect General Maxwell on the left flank every moment, and, as I lay on the right, we only want you in the rear to complete Mr. Howe's business. I believe he knows nothing of my situation, as I have taken every precaution to prevent any intelligence getting to him, at the same time keeping a watchful eye on his front, flanks, and rear."

His motions, however, had not been so secret as he imagined. He was in a part of the country full of the disaffected, and Sir William had received accurate information of his force and where he was encamped. General Gray, with a strong detachment, was sent to surprise him at night in his lair. Late in the evening, when Wayne had set his pickets and sentinels, and thrown out his patrols, a countryman brought him word of the meditated attack. He doubt ed the intelligence, but strengthened his pickets and patrols, and ordered his troops to sleep upon their arms.

General Smallwood, who was to have co

him at the time of his attack; and would have hastened to his assistance with his well-known intrepidity; but he had not the corps under his command with which he had formerly distinguished himself, and his raw militia fled in a panic at the first sight of a return party of the enemy.

Wayne was deeply mortified by the result of this affair, and, finding it severely criticized in the army, demanded a court-martial, which pronounced his conduct every thing that was to be expected from an active, brave, and vigilant officer; whatever blame there was in the matter fell upon his second in command, who, by delay, or misapprehension of orders, and an unskilful position of his troops, had exposed them to be massacred.

On the 21st, Sir William Howe made a rapid march high up the Schuylkill, on the road leading to Reading, as if he intended either to capture the military stores deposited there, or to turn the right of the American army. Washington kept pace with him on the opposite side of the river, up to Pott's Grove, about thirty miles from Philadelphia.

The movement on the part of Howe was a mere feint. No sooner had he drawn Washington so far up the river, than, by a rapid countermarch on the night of the 22d, he got to the ford below, threw his troops across on the next morning, and pushed forward for Philadelphia. By the time Washington was At eleven o'clock the pickets were driven in apprised of this counter-movement, Howe was




too far on his way to be overtaken by har- | brown linen hunting-frock, and decorate their assed, barefooted troops, worn out by constant caps with a sprig of evergreen. marching. Feeling the necessity of immediate reinforcements, he wrote on the same day to Putnam at Peekskill: "The situation of our affairs in this quarter calls for every aid and for every effort. I therefore desire that, without a moment's loss of time, you will detach as many effective rank and file, under proper generals and officers, as will make the whole number, including those with General McDougall, amount to twenty-five hundred privates and non-commissioned fit for duty.

"I must urge you, by every motive, to send this detachment without the least possible delay. No considerations are to prevent it. It is our first object to defeat, if possible, the army now opposed to us here."

In this way the British took possession of the city, so long the object of their awkward attempts, and regarded by them as a triumphant acquisition; having been the seat of the general government; the capital of the confederacy. Washington maintained his characteristic equanimity. "This is an event," writes he to Governor Trumbull, "which we have reason to wish had not happened, and which will be attended with several ill consequences; but I hope it will not be so detrimental as many apprehend, and that a little time and perseverance will give us some favorable opportunity of recovering our loss, and of putting our affairs in a more flourishing condition."

He had heard of the prosperous situation of affairs in the Northern Department, and the repeated checks given to the enemy. "I flatter myself," writes he, we shall soon hear that they have been succeeded by other fortu

[ocr errors]

On the next day (24th) he wrote also to General Gates. "This army has not been able to oppose General Howe's with the success that was wished, and needs a reinforcement. therefore request, if you have been so fortunate and interesting events, as the two armies, nate as to oblige General Burgoyne to retreat by General Gates's letter, were encamped near to Ticonderoga, or if you have not, and cir- each other." cumstances will admit, that you will order Colonel Morgan to join me again with his corps. I sent him up when I thought you materially wanted him; and, if his services can be dispensed with now, you will direct his immediate return."

Having called a council of officers and taken their opinions, which concurred with his own, Washington determined to remain some days at Pott's Grove, to give repose to his troops, and await the arrival of reinforcements.

Sir William Howe halted at Germantown, within a short distance of Philadelphia, and encamped the main body of his army in and about that village; detaching Lord Cornwallis with a large force and a number of officers of distinction, to take formal possession of the city. That general marched into Philadelphia on the 26th, with a brilliant staff and escort, and followed by splendid legions of British and Hessian grenadiers, long trains of artillery, and squadrons of light dragoons, the finest troops in the army all in their best array; stepping to the swelling music of the band playing God save the King, and presenting with their scarlet uniforms, their glittering arms and flaunting feathers, a striking contrast to the poor patriot troops, who had recently passed through the same streets, weary and way-worn, and happy if they could cover their raggedness with a

We will now revert to the course of the campaign in that quarter, the success of which he trusted would have a beneficial influence on the operations in which he was personally engaged. Indeed, the operations in the Northern Department formed, as we have shown, but a part of his general scheme, and were constantly present to his thoughts. His generals had each his own individual enterprise, or his own department to think about; Washington had to think for the whole.


THE checks which Burgoyne had received on right and left, and, in a great measure, through the spontaneous rising of the country, had opened his eyes to the difficulties of his situation, and the errors as to public feeling into which he had been led by his tory counsellors. "The great bulk of the country is undoubtedly with the Congress in principle and zeal," writes he, "and their measures are executed with a secrecy and despatch that are not to be equalled. Wherever the king's forces point, militia, to the amount of three or four thousand, assemble in twenty-four hours: they bring with them their subsistence, &c., and, the


Crossing the whole length of Lake Champlain, she found him in a sick bed at Skenesborough. After his recovery, she refused to leave him, but had continued with the army

alarm over, they return to their farms. The Hampshire Grants, in particular, a country unpeopled and almost unknown last war, now abounds in the most active and most rebellious race of the continent, and hangs like a gather-ever since. Her example had been imitated ing storm upon my left." What a picture this gives of a patriotic and warlike yeomanry. He complains, too, that no operation had yet been undertaken in his favor; the Highlands of the Hudson had not even been threatened; the consequence was that two brigades had been detached from them to strengthen the army of Gates, strongly posted near the mouth of the Mohawk River, with a superior force of Continental troops, and as many militia as he pleased.

by the Baroness De Riedesel, who had joined
the army at Fort Edward, bringing with her her
three small children. The friendship and sym-
pathy of these two ladies in all scenes of trial
and suffering, and their devoted attachment to
their husbands, afford touching episodes in the
story of the campaign. When the army was
on the march, they followed a little distance in
the rear, Lady Harriet in a two-wheeled tum-
bril, the Baroness in a calash, capable of hold-
ing herself, her children, and two servants.
The latter has left a journal of her campaign-
ing, which we may occasionally cite.
moved," she says, "in the midst of soldiery,
who were full of animation, singing camp songs,
and panting for action. They had to travel

[ocr errors]

Burgoyne declared, that had he any latitude in his orders, he would remain where he was, or perhaps fall back to Fort Edward, where his communication with Lake George would be secure, and wait for some event that might assist his movement forward; his orders, how-through almost impassable woods; in a picever, were positive to force a junction with Sir William Howe. He did not feel at liberty, therefore, to remain inactive longer than would be necessary to receive the reinforcements of the additional companies, the German drafts and recruits actually on Lake Champlain, and to collect provisions enough for twenty-five days. These reinforcements were indispensable, because, from the hour he should pass the Hudson River and proceed towards Albany, all safety of communication would cease.

"I yet do not despair," adds he, manfully. "Should I succeed in forcing my way to Albany, and find that country in a state to subsist my army, I shall think no more of a retreat, but, at the worst, fortify there, and await Sir William's operations."*

A feature of peculiar interest is given to this wild and rugged expedition, by the presence of two ladies of rank and refinement, involed in its perils and hardships One was Lady Harriet Ackland, daughter of the Earl of Ilchester, and wife of Major Ackland of the grenadiers; the other was the Baroness De Riedesel, wife of the Hessian major-general. Both of these ladies had been left behind in Canada. Lady Harriet, however, on hearing that her husband was wounded in the affair at Hubbardton, instantly set out to rejoin him, regardless of danger, and of her being in a condition before long to become a mother.

*Letter to Lord George Germain.

[ocr errors]

turesque and beautiful region; but which was almost abandoned by its inhabitants, who had hastened to join the American army." They added much to its strength," observes she, as they were all good marksmen, and the love of their country inspired them with more than ordinary courage.'

[ocr errors]

The American army had received various reinforcements: the most efficient was Morgan's corps of riflemen, sent by Washington. He had also furnished it with artillery. It was now about ten thousand strong. Schuyler finding himself and his proffered services slighted by Gates, had returned to Albany. His patriotism was superior to personal resentments. He still continued to promote the success of the campaign, exerting his influence over the Indian tribes, to win them from the enemy. At Albany, he held talks and war-feasts with deputations of Oneida, Tuscarora, and Onondaga warriors; and procured scouting parties of them, which he sent to the camp, and which proved of great service. His former aidede-camp, Colonel Brockholst Livingston, and his secretary, Colonel Varick, remained in camp, and kept him informed by letter of passing occurrences. They were much about the person of General Arnold, who, since his return from relieving Fort Stanwix, commanded the left wing of the army. Livingston, in fact, was with him as aide-de-camp. The jealousy

Riedesel's Memoirs.





of Gates was awakened by these circumstan- | off with a small party to ascend the high hills ces. He knew their attachment to Schuyler, on the east side of the Hudson, and watch the and suspected they were prejudicing the mind movements of the enemy with glasses from of Arnold against him; and this suspicion their summits, or from the tops of the trees. may have been the origin of a coolness and For three days he kept thus on the look-out, neglect which he soon evinced toward Arnold sending word from time to time to camp of all himself. These young officers, however, though that he espied. devotedly attached to Schuyler from a knowledge of his generous character, were above any camp intrigue. Livingston was again looking forward with youthful ardor to a brush with the enemy; but regretted that his former chief would not be there to lead it. "Burgoyne," writes he to Schuyler exultingly, "is in such a situation, that he can neither advance nor retire without fighting. A capital battle must soon be fought. I am chagrined to the soul when I think that another person will reap the fruits of your labors." *

Colonel Varick, equally eager, was afraid Burgoyne might be decamping. "His evening guns," writes he, are seldom heard, and when heard, are very low in sound." +

[ocr errors]

The dense forests, in fact, which covered the country between the hostile armies, concealed their movements, and as Gates threw out no harassing parties, his information concerning the enemy was vague. Burgoyne, however, was diligently collecting all his forces from Skenesborough, Fort Anne, and Fort George, and collecting provisions; he had completed a bridge by which he intended to pass the Hudson, and force his way to Albany, where he expected co-operation from below. Every thing was conducted with as much silence and caution as possible. His troops paraded without beat of drum, and evening guns were discontinued. So stood matters on the 11th of September, when a report was circulated in the American camp, that Burgoyne was in motion, and that he had made a speech to his soldiers, telling them that the fleet had returned to Cannada, and their only safety was to fight their way to New York.

As General Gates was to receive an attack, it was thought he ought to choose the ground where to receive it; Arnold, therefore, in company with Kosciuszko, the Polish engineer, reconnoitred the neighborhood in quest of a good camping-ground, and at length fixed upon a ridge of hills called Bemis's Heights, which Kosciuszko proceeded to fortify.

On the 11th there were the first signs of movement among Burgoyne's troops. On the 13th and 14th, they slowly passed over a bridge of boats, which they had thrown across the Hudson, and encamped near Fish Creek. Colburn counted eight hundred tents, including marquees. A mile in advance were fourteen more tents. The Hessians remained encamped on the eastern side of the river, but intervening woods concealed the number of their tents. There was not the usual stir of military animation in the camps. There were no evening nor morning guns.

On the 15th, both English and Hessian camps struck their tents, and loaded their baggage waggons. By twelve o'clock both began to march. Colburn neglected to notice the route taken by the Hessians; his attention was absorbed by the British, who made their way slowly and laboriously down the western side of the river, along a wretched road intersected by brooks and rivulets, the bridges over which Schuyler had broken down. The division had with it eighty-five baggage waggons and a great train of artillery; with two unwieldy twenty-four pounders, acting like drag-anchors. It was a silent, dogged march, without beat of drum, or spirit-stirring bray of trumpet. A body of light troops, new levies, and Indians, painted and decorated for war, struck off from the rest and disappeared in the forest, up Fish Creek. From the great silence observed by Burgoyne in his movements, and the care he took in keeping his men together, and allowing no straggling parties, Colonel Colburn apprehended that he meditated an attack. Having seen the army advance two miles on its march, therefore, he descended from the heights, and hastened to the American camp to make his report. A British prisoner, brought in soon afterwards, stated that Burgoyne had come to a halt about four miles distant.

On the following morning, the army was under arms at daylight; the enemy, however, remained encamped, repairing bridges in front,

In the mean time, Colonel Colburn was sent and sending down guard boats to reconnoitre;


MS. Letter to Schuyler.

† Ibid.

the Americans, therefore, went on to fortify their position. The ridge of hills called Bemis's

« PrejšnjaNaprej »