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pled force all resistance would be unavailing, took advantage of a dark cloudy night, and a strong north wind; his vessels slipped silently through the enemy's line without being discovered, one following a light on the stern of the other; and by daylight they were out of sight. They had to anchor, however, at Schuyler's Island, about ten miles up the lake, to stop leaks and make repairs. Two of the gondolas were here sunk, being past remedy. About noon the retreat was resumed, but the wind had become adverse; and they made little progress. Arnold's galley, the Congress, the Washington galley and four gondolas, all which had suffered severely in the late fight, fell astern of the rest of the squadron in the course of the night. In the morning, when the sun lifted a fog which had covered the lake, they beheld the enemy within a few miles of them in full chase, while their own comrades were nearly out of sight, making the best of their way for Crown Point.
It was now an anxious trial of speed and seamanship. Arnold, with the crippled relics of his squadron, managed by noon to get within a few leagues of Crown Point, when they were overtaken by the Inflexible, the Carleton, and the schooner Maria of 14 guns. As soon as they came up, they poured in a tremendous fire. The Washington galley, already shattered, and having lost most of her officers, was compelled to strike, and General Waterbury and the crew were taken prisoners. Arnold had now to bear the brunt of the action. For a long time he was engaged within musket shot with the Inflexible, and the two schooners, until his galley was reduced to a wreck and one-third of the crew were killed. The gondolas were nearly in the same desperate condition; yet the men stood stoutly to their guns. Seeing resistance vain, Arnold determined that neither vessels nor crew should fall into the hands of the enemy. He ordered the gondolas to run on shore, in a small creek in the neighborhood, the men to set fire to them as soon as they grounded, to wade on shore with their muskets, and keep off the enemy until they were consumed. He did the same with his own galley; remaining on board of her until she was in flames, lest the enemy should get possession and strike his flag, which was kept flying to the last.
He now set off with his gallant crew, many of whom were wounded, by a road through the woods to Crown Point, where he arrived at night, narrowly escaping an Indian ambush. Two schooners, two galleys, one sloop and one gondola, the remnant which had escaped of this squadron, were at anchor
at the Point, and General Waterbury and most of his men arrived there the next day on parole. Seeing that the place must soon fall into the hands of the enemy, they set fire to the houses, destroyed every thing they could not carry away, and embarking in the vessels made sail for Ticonderoga.
The loss of the Americans in these two actions is said to have been between eighty and ninety men; that of the British about forty. It is worthy of mention, that among the young officers in Sir Guy Carleton's squadron, was Edward Pellew, who afterward rose to renown as Admiral Viscount Exmouth; celebrated, among other things, for his victory at Algiers.
The conduct of Arnold in these naval affairs gained him new laurels. He was extolled for the judgment with which he chose his position, and brought his vessels into action; for his masterly retreat, and for the self-sacrificing devotion with which he exposed himself to the overwhelming force of the enemy in covering the retreat of part of his flotilla.
Sir Guy Carleton took possession of the ruined works at Crown Point, where he was soon joined by the army. He made several movements by land and water, as if meditating an attack upon Ticonderoga; pushing strong detachments on both sides of the lake, which approached within a small distance of the fort, while one vessel appeared within cannon shot of a lower battery, sounding the depth of the channel, until a few shot obliged her to retire. General Gates, in the mean time, strengthened his works with incessant assiduity, and made every preparation for an obstinate defence. A strong easterly wind prevented the enemy's ships from advancing to attack the lines, and gave time for the arrival of re-enforcements of militia to the garrison. It also afforded time for Sir Guy Carleton to cool in ardor, and calculate the chances and the value of success. The post, from its strength, and the apparent number and resolution of the garrison, could not be taken without great loss of life. If taken, the season was now too far advanced to think of passing Lake George, and exposing the army to the perils of a winter campaign in the inhospitable and impracticable wilds to the southward. Ticonderoga, too, could not be kept during the winter, so that the only result of the capture would be the reduction of the works and the taking of some cannon; all which damage the Americans could remedy before the opening of the summer campaign. If, however, the defence should be obstinate, the British army, even if successful, might sustain a loss sufficient to cripple its operations in the coming year.1
1 Civil War in America, vol. i., p. 214.
These, and other prudential reasons, induced Carleton to give up all attempt upon the fortress at present; wherefore, re-embarking his troops, he returned to St. Johns, and cantone(. them in Canada for the winter. It was not until about the 1s of November, that a reconnoitring party, sent out from Ticonderoga by General Gates, brought him back intelligence that Crown Point was abandoned by the enemy, and not a hostile sail in sight. All apprehensions of an attack upon Ticonderoga during the present year were at an end, and many of the troops stationed there were already on their march toward Albany.
Such was the purport of the news from the north, received by Washington at Peekskill. It relieved him for the present from all anxiety respecting affairs on Lake Champlain, and gave him the prospect of re-enforcements from that quarter.
WASHINGTON CROSSES THE HUDSON
ARRIVES AT FORT LEE
AFFAIRS AT FORT WASHINGTON QUESTION ABOUT ITS ABAN
THE FORT AT
· COMMENTS of
ON the morning of the 12th of November, Washington crossed the Hudson, to the ferry below Stony Point, with the residue of the troops destined for the Jerseys. Far below were to be descried the Phoenix, the Roebuck, and the Tartar, at anchor in the broad waters of Haverstraw Bay and the Tappan Sea, guarding the lower ferries. The army, thus shut out from the nearer passes, was slowly winding its way by a circuitous route through the gap in the mountains, which Lord Stirling had secured. Leaving the troops which had just landed, to pursue the same route to the Hackensack, Washington, accompanied by Colonel Reed, struck a direct course for Fort Lee, being anxious about affairs at Fort Washington. He arrived there on the following day, and found, to his disappointment, that General Greene had taken no measures for the evacuation of that fortress; but on the contrary, had re-enforced it with a part of Colonel Durkee's regiment, and the regiment of Colonel Rawlings, so that its garrison now numbered upward of two thousand men; a great part, however, were militia. Washington's
orders for its evacuation had, in fact, been discretionary, leaving the execution of them to Greene's judgment," as being on the spot." The latter had differed in opinion as to the policy of such a measure; and Colonel Magaw, who had charge of the fortress, was likewise confident it might be maintained.
Colonel Reed was of opposite counsels; but then he was personally interested in the safety of the garrison. It was composed almost entirely of Pennsylvania troops under Magaw and Lambert Cadwalader; excepting a small detachment of Maryland riflemen commanded by Otho H. Williams. They were his friends and neighbors, the remnant of the brave men who had suffered so severely under Atlee and Smallwood.1 The fort was now invested on all sides but one; and the troops under Howe which had been encamped at Dobbs' Ferry, were said to be moving down toward it. Reed's solicitude was not shared by the garrison itself. Colonel Magaw, its brave commander, still thought it was in no immediate danger.
Washington was much perplexed. The main object of Howe was still a matter of doubt with him. He could not think that Sir William was moving his whole force upon that fortress, to invest which, a part would be sufficient. He suspected an ulterior object, probably a Southern expedition, as he was told a large number of ships were taking in wood and water at New York. He resolved, therefore, to continue a few days in this neighborhood, during which he trusted the designs of the enemy would be more apparent; in the mean time he would distribute troops at Brunswick, Amboy, Elizabethtown and Fort Lee, so as to be ready at these various points to check any incursions into the Jerseys.
In a letter to the President of Congress he urged for an increase of ordnance and field-artillery. The rough, hilly country east of the Hudson, and the strongholds and fastnesses of which the Americans had possessed themselves, had prevented the enemy from profiting by the superiority of their artillery; but this would not be the case, should the scene of action change to an open champaign country, like the Jerseys. Washington was mistaken in his conjecture as to Sir William Howe's design. The capture of Fort Washington was, at present, his main object; and he was encamped on Fordham Heights, not far from King's Bridge, until preliminary steps should be taken. In the night of the 14th, thirty flat-bottomed boats stole quietly up the Hudson, passed the American forts
1 W. B. Reed's Life of Reed, i., 252.
undiscovered, and made their way through Spyt den Duivel Creek into Harlem River. The means were thus provided for crossing that river and landing before unprotected parts of the American works.
On the 15th, General Howe sent in a summons to surrender, with a threat of extremities should he have to carry the place by assault. Magaw, in his reply, intimated a doubt that General Howe would execute a threat "so unworthy of himself and the British nation; but give me leave," added he, "to assure his Excellency, that, actuated by the most glorious cause that mankind ever fought in, I am determined to defend this post to the very last extremity."
Apprised by the Colonel of his peril, General Greene sent over re-enforcements, with an exhortation to him to persist in his defence; and despatched an express to Washington, who was at Hackensack, where the troops which had crossed from Peekskill were encamped. It was nightfall when Washington arrived at Fort Lee. Greene and Putnam were over at the besieged fortress. He threw himself into a boat, and had partly crossed the river, when he met those generals returning. They informed him of the garrison's having been re-enforced, and assured him that it was in high spirits, and capable of making a good defence. It was with difficulty, however, they could prevail on him to return with them to the Jersey shore, for he was excessively excited.
Early the next morning (16th), Magaw made his disposition for the expected attack. His forces, with the recent addition amounted to nearly three thousand men. As the fort could not contain above a third of that number, most of them were stationed about the outworks.
Colonel Lambert Calwalader, with eight hundred Pennsylvanians, was posted in the outer lines, about two miles and a half south of the fort, the side menaced by Lord Percy with sixteer hundred men. Colonel Rawlings, of Maryland, with a body of troops, many of them riflemen, was stationed by a three-gun battery, on a rocky, precipitous hill, north of the fort, and between it and Spyt den Duivel Creek. Colonel Baxter, of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, with his regiment of militia, was posted east of the fort, on rough, woody heights, Lordering the Harlem River, to watch the motions of the enemy, who had thrown up redoubts on high and commanding ground, on the opposite side of the river, apparently to cover the crossing and landing of troops.
Sir William Howe had planned four simultaneous attacks; one