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castle, at 11 o'clock, and arrived at Peekskill at sunset; whither General Heath, with his division, had preceded him by a few hours. Lord Stirling was there, likewise, having effected the transportation of the Maryland and Virginia troops across the river, and landed them at the ferry south of Stony Point; though a better landing was subsequently found north of the point. His lordship had thrown out a scouting party in the advance, and a hundred men to take possession of a gap in the mountain, through which a road passed toward the Jerseys. Washington was now at the entrance of the Highlands, that grand defile of the Hudson, the object of so much precaution and solicitude. On the following morning, accompanied by Generals Heath, Stirling, James and George Clinton, Mifflin, and others, he made a military visit in boats to the Highland posts. Fort Montgomery was in a considerable state of forwardness, and a work in the vicinity was projected to co-operate with it. Fort Constitution commanded a sudden bend of the river, but Lord Stirling, in his report of inspection, had intimated that the fort itself was commanded by West Point opposite. A glance of the eye, without going on shore, was sufficient to convince Washington of the fact. A fortress subsequently erected on that point, has been considered the Key of the Highlands.
On the morning of the 12th, at an early hour, Washington rode out with General Heath to reconnoitre the east side of the Hudson, at the gorge of the Highlands. Henry Wisner, in a report to the New York Convention, had mentioned a hill to the north of Peekskill, so situated, with the road winding along the side of it, that ten men on the top, by rolling down stones, might prevent ten thousand from passing. "I believe," said he, "nothing more need be done than to keep great quantities of stones at the different places where the troops must pass, if they attempt penetrating the mountains." Near Robinson's
Bridge, in this vicinity, about two miles from Peekskill, Washington chose a place where troops should be stationed to cover the south entrance into the mountains; and here, afterward, was established an important military depot called Continental Village.
On the same day (12th), he wrote to General Lee, enclosing a copy of resolutions just received from Congress, respecting levies for the new army, showing the importance of immediately beginning the recruiting service. If no commissioners arrived from Rhode Island, he was to appoint the officers recommended to that State by General Greene. "I cannot conclude," adds
he, "without reminding you of the military and other stores about your encampment, and at Northcastle, and to press the removal of them above Croton Bridge, or such other places of security as you may think proper. General Howe, having sent no part of his force to Jersey yet, makes the measure more necessary, as he may turn his views another way, and attempt their destruction."
It was evidently Washington's desire that Lee should post himself, as soon as possible, beyond the Croton, where he would be safe from surprise, and at hand to throw his troops promptly across the Hudson, should the Jerseys be invaded.
Having made all these surveys and arrangements, Washington placed Heath in the general command of the Highlands, with written instructions to fortify the passes with all possible despatch, and directions how the troops were to be distributed on both sides of the river; and here we take occasion to give some personal notice of this trusty officer.
Heath was now in the fortieth year of his age. of the noted officers of the Revolution, he had been brought up in rural life, on an hereditary farm near Boston; yet, according to his own account, though passionately fond of agricultural pursuits, he had also, almost from childhood, a great relish for military affairs, and had studied every treatise on the subject in the English language, so that he considered himself fully acquainted with the theory of war, in all its branches and duties, from the private soldier to the commander-in-chief.”
He describes himself to be of a middling stature, light com- . plexion, very corpulent and bald-headed, so that the French officers who served in America compared him, in person, to the Marquis of Granby.1
Such was the officer intrusted with the command of the Highland passes, and encamped at Peekskill, their portal. We shall find him faithful to his trust; scrupulous in obeying the letter of his instructions; but sturdy and punctilious in resisting any undue assumption of authority.
1 Heath's Memoirs.
AFFAIRS ON LAKE
CHAMPLAIN GATES AT TICONDEROGA -AR
NOLD'S FLOTILLA MILITARY PREPARATIONS OF SIR GUY CARLETON AT ST. JOHNS NAUTICAL ENCOUNTERS GALLANT CONDUCT OF ARNOLD AND WATERBURY -CARLETON IN POSSESSION OF CROWN POINT HIS RETURN TO CANADA AND WINTER QUARTERS.
DURING his brief and busy sojourn at Peckskill, Washington received important intelligence from the Northern army; especially that part of it on Lake Champlain, under the command of General Gates. A slight retrospect of affairs in that quarter is proper, before we proceed to narrate the eventful campaign in the Jerseys.
The preparations for the defence of Ticonderoga, and the nautical service on the lake, had met with difficulties at every step. At length, by the middle of August, a small flotilla was completed, composed of a sloop and schooner each of twelve guns (six and four pounders), two schooners mounting eight guns each, and five gondolas, each of three guns. The flotilla was subsequently augmented, and the command given by Gates to Arnold, in compliance with the advice of Washington, who had a high opinion of that officer's energy, intrepidity, and fertility in expedients.
Sir Guy Carleton, in the mean time, was straining every nerve for the approaching conflict. The successes of the British forces on the seaboard had excited the zealous rivalry of the forces in Canada. The commanders, newly arrived, were fearful the war might be brought to a close before they could have an opportunity to share in the glory. Hence the ardor with
which they encountered and vanquished obstacles which might otherwise have appeared insuperable. Vessels were brought from England in pieces and put together at St. Johns, boats of various kinds and sizes were transported over land, or dragged up the rapids of the Sorel. The soldiers shared with the seamen in the toil. The Canadian farmers, also, were taken from their agricultural pursuits, and compelled to aid in these, to them, unprofitable labors. Sir Guy was full of hope and ardor. Should he get the command of Lakes Champlain and George, the northern part of New York would be at his mercy; before winter set in he might gain possession of Albany. He would then be able to co-operate with General Howe in severing and
subduing the northern and southern provinces, and bringing the war to a speedy and triumphant close.
In despite of every exertion, three months elapsed before his armament was completed. Winter was fast approaching. Before it arrived, the success of his brilliant plan required that he should fight his way across Lake Champlain; carry the strong posts of Crown Point and Ticonderoga; traverse Lake George, and pursue a long and dangerous march through a wild and rugged country, beset with forests and morasses, to Albany. That was the first post to the southward where he expected to find rest and winter quarters for his troops.1
By the month of October, between twenty and thirty sail were afloat, and ready for action. The flag-ship (the Inflexible) mounted eighteen twelve-pounders; the rest were gunboats, a gondola and a flat-bottomed vessel called a radeau, and named the Thunderer; carrying a battery of six twenty-four and twelve six pounders, besides howitzers. The gun-boats mounted brass field-pieces and howitzers. Seven hundred seamen navigated the fleet; two hundred of them were volunteers from the transports. The guns were worked by detachments from the corps of artillery. In a word, according to British accounts, "no equipment of the kind was ever better appointed or more amply furnished with every kind of provision necessary for the intended service." 2
Captain Pringle conducted the armament, but Sir Guy Carleton was too full of zeal, and too anxious for the event, not to head the enterprise; he accordingly took his station on the deck of the flag-ship. They made sail early in October, in quest of the American squadron, which was said to be abroad upon the lake. Arnold, however, being ignorant of the strength of the enemy, and unwilling to encounter a superior force in the open lake, had taken his post under cover of Valcour Island, in the upper part of a deep channel, or strait between that island and the mainland. His force consisted of three schooners, two sloops, three galleys and eight gondolas; carrying in all seventy guns, many of them eighteen-pounders.
The British ships, sweeping past Cumberland Head with a fair wind and flowing sail on the morning of the 11th, had left the southern end of Valcour Island astern, when they discovered Arnold's flotilla anchored behind it, in a line extending across the strait so as not to be outflanked. They immediately hauled close to the wind, and tried to beat up into the channel. The wind, however, did not permit the largest of them to 1 Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 212.
* Idem, i., 211.
enter. Arnold took advantage of the circumstance. on board of the galley Congress, and, leaving the line, advanced with two other galleys and the schooner Royal Savage, to attack the smaller vessels as they entered before the large ones could come up. About twelve o'clock the enemy's schooner Carleton opened a brisk fire upon the Royal Savage and the galleys. It was as briskly returned. Seeing the enemy's gun-boats approaching, the Americans endeavored to return to the line. In so doing, the Royal Savage ran aground. Her crew set her on fire and abandoned her. In about an hour the British brought all their gun-boats in a range across the lower part of the channel, within musket shot of the Americans, the schooner Carleton in the advance. They landed, also, a large number of Indians on the island, to keep up a galling fire from the shore upon the Americans with their rifles. The action now became general, and was severe and sanguinary. The Americans, finding themselves thus hemmed in by a superior force, fought with desperation. Arnold pressed with his galley into the hottest of the fight. The Congress was hulled several times, received seven shots between wind and water, was shattered in mast and rigging, and many of the crew were killed or wounded. The ardor of Arnold increased with his danger. He cheered on his men by voice and example, often pointing the guns with his own hands. He was ably seconded by Brigadier-General Waterbury, in the Washington galley, which, like his own vessel, was terribly cut up. The contest lasted throughout the day. Carried on as it was within a narrow compass, and on a tranquil lake, almost every shot took effect. The fire of the Indians from the shore was less deadly than had been expected; but their whoops and yells, mingling with the rattling of the musketry, and the thundering of the cannon, increased the horrors of the scene. Volumes of smoke rose above the woody shores, which echoed with the unusual din of war, and for a time this lovely recess of a beautiful and peaceful lake was rendered a perfect pandemonium.
The evening drew nigh, yet the contest was undecided.
Captain Pringle, after a consultation with Sir Guy Carleton, called off the smaller vessels which had been engaged, and anchored his whole squadron in a line as near as possible to the Americans, so as to prevent their escape; trusting to capture the whole of them when the wind should prove favorable, so that he could bring his large vessels into action.
Arnold, however, sensible that with his inferior and crip