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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 headquarters continued to be on Harlem Heights for several days, during which time he was continually in the saddle, riding about a broken, woody, and half-wild country, forming posts and choosing sites for breast works and redoubts. By his skillful 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 headquarters 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 re-enforcements, 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 flat-boats 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 Pelham toward New Rochelle, still with a view to get above Washington's army.
In their march, the British were waylaid and harassed by Colonel Glover of Massachusetts, 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 Sound. At the latter place was posted Colonel Rogers, the renegade, as he was called, with the Queen's Rangers, his newly-raised corps of loyalists.
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 lieu
tenant and several men, and brought away thirty-six pris
oners, 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 re-enforced by a second division of Hessians under General Knyphausen, and a regiment of Waldeckers, both of which had recently arrived in New York. He was joined, also, by the whole of the seventeenth light-dragoons, and a part of the sixteenth, which had arrived on the 3d instant 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 arrival.
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.
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 accouterments, and so on, in proportion to the completeness of the capture.
On the 25th, about two o'clock in the afternoon, intelligence was brought to headquarters that three or four de
tachments 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 everything remained quiet but expectant throughout the 26th. 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 Burdett's Ferry, below the Morris House, Washington's old headquarters, 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, "we should have sunk her."
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 wagons four miles long, laden with stores and ammunition, 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.