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General Clinton's division, having crossed the whole island, gained their rear. Lord Sterling perceived his danger, and found that his troops could be saved only by an immediate retreat over a creek near the cove He gave orders to this purpose ; and, to facilitate their execution, he in person attacked Lord Cornwallis, who, by this time having gained the coast, had posted a small corps in a house, just above the place where the American troops must pass the creek. The attack was bravely made with four hundred men, who, in the opinion of their commander, were upon the point of dislodging Cornwallis; but his Lordship being reinforced from his own column, and General Grant attacking Loru Sterling in the rear, this brave band was overpowered by numbers, and those who survived were compelled to surrender themselves prisoners of war; but this spirited assault gave opportunity for a large proportion of the detachment to escape. The loss of the Americans on this occasion, for the number engaged, was great; General WASHINGron stated it at a thousand men; but his returns probably included only the regular regiments. General Howe, in an official letter, made the prisoners amount to one thousand and ninety-seven. Among these were Major General Sullivan, and Brigadier Generals Sterling and Woodhull. The amount of the killed was never with precision ascertained. Numbers were supposed to have been drowned in the creek, and some to have perished in the mud on the marsh. The British loss acknowedged by General Howe, was twenty-one officers, and three hundred and forty-six privates killed, wounded, and taken. General WashingtoN possed over to Brooklyn in the heat of the action ; but unable to rescue his men from their perilous situation, was constrained to be the inactive spectator of the slaughter of his best troops. At the close of the day, the British approached in front of the Ame, ican works, and it has been said, that

the troops, in their ardour, exhibited a strong inclination to storm the lines; but General Howe, remembering Bunker Hill, prudently restrained them from the assault. Determining to carry the American works by regu lar approaches, the British commander broke ground, on the night of the 28th, within six hundred yards of a redoubt. General WASHINgtoN was fully sensible of the danger that awaited him. The success of the enemy by regular approaches was certain. His troops were without tents, and had already suffered extremely by heavy rains. The movements of the British fleet indicated an intention to force a passage into the East river, and cut off the retreat of the troops to the city. Should they accomplish this, the situation of the army on Long Island would be desperate. An immediate retreat to the city was therefore thought expedient. The measure was happily accomplished, on the night of the 29th, with all the stores, and military apparatus, except a few pieces of heavy artillery, which the softness of the ground rendered it impossible to move. This important retreat was made with so much silence and address, that the enemy did not perceive it, although so near that the noise of their intrenching tools was distinctly heard by the Americans. A heavy fog hung over Long Island until late in the morning of the 30th, which hid the movements of the American army from General Howe. When it cleared, the rear guard was seen crossing East river, out of reach of the British fire. The General in person inspected the details of this critical retreat ; and for the forty-eight hours, which preceded its completion, in his own language, he was “hardly off his horse, and never closed his eyes.” He did not leave the Island before the covering party marched from the lines." The attempt to defen. Long Island has by many been considered, as an errour in the military opera

General Clinton's division, having crossed the whole
island, gained their rear. Lord Sterling perceived his
danger, and found that his troops could be saved only
by an immediate retreat over a creek near the cove
He gave orders to this purpose ; and, to facilitate their
execution, he in person attacked Lord Cornwallis, who,
by this time having gained the coast, had posted a
small corps in a house, just above the place where the
American troops must pass the creek. The attack
was bravely made with four hundred men, who, in the
opinion of their commander, were upon the point of
dislodging Cornwallis; but his Lordship being rein-
forced from his own column, and General Grant at-
tacking Loru Sterling in the rear, this brave band
was overpowered by numbers, and those who survived
were compelled to surrender themselves prisoners of
war; but this spirited assault gave opportunity for a
large proportion of the detachment to escape.
The loss of the Americans on this occasion, for the
number engaged, was great; General WAshingtoN
stated it at a thousand men; but his returns probably
included only the regular regiments. General Howe,
in an official letter, made the prisoners amount to one
thousand and ninety-seven. Among these were Major
General Sullivan, and Brigadier Generals Sterling and
Woodhull. The amount of the killed was never with
precision ascertained. Numbers were supposed to have
been drowned in the creek, and some to have perished
in the mud on the marsh. The British loss acknow-
edged by General Howe, was twenty-one officers, and
three mundred and forty-six privates killed, wounded,
and taken.
General WashingtoN possed over to Brooklyn in
the heat of the action ; but unable to rescue his men
from their perilous situation, was constrained to be the
inactive spectator of the slaughter of his best troops.
At the close of the day, the British approached in
front of “he Ame, Ican works, and it has been said, that

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tions of the American General. But before his judgment, in this instance, is condemned, the reasons which led, to it ought to be weighed. Its possession was highly important to cither army; its situation rendered its defence, in a good degree, probable ; the range of hills was favourable to the obstruction of an invading enemy; and a fortified camp in the rear opening a communication with the city, and supported by batteries on Governour's Island and the East river, rendered a retreat practicable, when circumstances should make it necessary. There was then a fair prospect of defending the island; at least of detaining the enemy so long in the effort to gain possession of it, as to waste the campaign in the contention. The disastrous consequences of this measure, are not to be attributed to any defect in the original plan, but to the neglect of the commanding officer on the island in guarding the pass on the road from Jamaica to Bedford. Unfortunately this officer was changed at the time, when hostilities were about to commence; and the General, who directed the disposition of the troops on the day of the action, was imperfectly acquainted with the passes in the mountains. General WASHINGTON, by written instructions, directed this officer “Particularly to guard the defiles in the woods, and to render the approach of the enemy through them as difficult as possible.” This order was not fully executed. It appears, that General Sullivan was not apprized of the march of the British detachment from Flatbush to Flatland, on the evening of the 26th, and a guard on the Jamaica road did not seasonably discover the approach of the enemy to give information. General Howe, in his official letter, mentioned, that an American patroling party was taken on this road; and General WAshingtoN in a letter to a friend wrote, “This misfortune happened in a great measure, by two detachments of our people, who were posted in two roads leading through a wood to inte.'cept the enemy in their

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