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front of the British army. A detachment was posted on a hill a mile from the main body, on the west side of the river, to cover the right wing ; and entrenchments were formed, as time permitted, to render the lines more defensible. The manoeuvres of General Howe indicated Oct. 28 the intention to attack the American camp; he reconnoitred their position, and with little effect opened a heavy cannonade upon it. He detached a large corps over the Brunx to drive the Americans from the hill on their right, and thereby open the way for an assault upon the right and centre of the main body. The charge was sustained with spirit; but finally the Americans were overpowered by numbers, and driven from this position. The loss of the Americans in the gallant conflict, in killed, wounded, and taken, was between three and four hundred ; that of the British was not less. The day was so far spent in the struggle, that General Howe deferred the attack upon the lines until next morning, and the whole British army lay through the night upon their arms, in face of the American encampment. General WASHINGToN spent the time in making preparation for the expected assault; he drew his right wing back into stronger ground, and strengthened his left in its former position. The succeeding day the cautious Howe again reconnoitred the American camp, and determined to suspend the attack until the arrival of a reinforcement from the city. This additional force reached him on the afternoon of the 30th, and preparations were made for the attack; but a violent rain prevented the execution of the design. The movements of the enemy manifestNov. 1. ing the design to turn the right flank of the Americans, and gain possession of the high ground in their roar, General WA shingtoN, hav. ing secured his heavy baggage and stores, at night. withdrew his army from its present position, and formq :
edit upon the heights of Newcastle, about five miles from the White Plains, and secured the bridge over Croton river. General Howe deemed the new encampment too strong to be forced, and marched off his army to other operations. The immediate object of General Howe Nov. 5. in leaving the White Plains, was to invest Forts Washington and Lee. The possession of these sortresses would secure the free navigation of the North river, and facilitate the invasion of New-Jersey. The American Commander conformed his movements to those of his enemy. He ordered all the troops raised on the west side of the Hudson to cross that river under the command of General Green, intending himself to cross. as soon as the plans of General Howe should be more fully disclosed. General Lee remained with the troops raised east of the Hudson, who was ordered to join Green's division, whenever the enemy should enter New-Jersey. General WAshingtoN informing Congress of his new arrangements, observed, “I cannot indulge the idea that General Howe, supposing him to be going to NewYork, means to close the campaign, and to sit down without attempting something more. I think it highly probable, and almost certain, that he will make a descent with a part of his troops into the Jerseys, and as soon as I am satisfied that the present manoeuvre is real, and not a feint, I shall use all the means in my power to forward a part of our force to counteract his designs. “I expect the enemy will bend their force against Fort Washington, and invest it immediately. From some advice, it is an object that will attract their earliest attention.” He wrote to Governour Livingston, informing him of the movements of the enemy, and advising him to hold the militia in their full strength, in constant readi
ness to defend their country. He also urged him to remove or destroy the stock and provisions on the seacoast, lest these should fall into the hands of the British. He directed General Green to keep his eye on Mount Washington, to send off from his division all stores not of immediate necessity, and to establish his magazines at Princeton, or some distant place of safety. While the British forces were marching to King's bridge, three ships of war sailed up the Hudson, without injury from the American batteries, or from the obstructions that had been sunk in the channel of the river. This fact convinced the General, that it was inexpedient longer to attempt the defence of Mount Washington. He accordingly again wrote to Nov. 8. General Green, “If we cannot prevent vessels from passing up, and the enemy are possessed of the surrounding country, what valuable purpose can it answer to actempt to hold a post, from which the expected benefit cannot be derived I am, therefore, inclined to think it will not be prudent to hazard the men and stores at Mount Washington; but as you are on the spot, I leave it to you to give such orders respecting the evacuation of the place, as you may think most adviseable, and so far revoke the orders given Colonel Magaw to defend it to the last.” In the presumption, that the works were too strong to be carried by storm, and that regular approaches by artillery would give opportunity to draw off the garrison, when their circumstances should become desperate, General Green did not carry these discretionary orders into effect. He was induced to this delay, that he might, as long as possible, retain the passage of the river, and prevent the depression, which the evacuation of an important post might produce on the army and on the country. General Howe being in readiness for the Nov. 15. assault, summoned the garrison to surrender. . Colonel Magaw, the commanding officer, in
spirited language, replied, that he should defend his works to extremity. He immediately communicated the summons to General Green, and through him to the Commander in Chief, then at Hackensack. The General rode to Fort Lee, at which place he took boat, late at night, for Mount Washington; but, on the river, met Generals Putnam and Green returning from a visit to the garrison, who informed him that the men were in high spirits, and would make a brave defence, and he returned with them to Fort Lee. On the succeeding morning the enemy made the assault in four separate divisions. The Hessians, commanded by General Knyphausen, moved down from King's bridge to attack the north side of the fort; they were gallantly opposed, and repeatedly repulsed by Colonel Rawlings's regiment of riflemen posted on a hill back of the works. Lord Percy, accompanied by General Howe, assaulted the works on the south General Mathews crossed the North river, and landed within the second line of defence, while a considerable part of the garrison were in the first, fighting with Lord Percy. Colonel Cadwallader, the commander at this post, fearing an attack on his rear, retreated in confusion towards the fort ; but the fourth British column crossing the North river at this moment, within the lines, intercepted a part of Cadwallader's troops, and made them prisoners. In the mean time, Knyphausen had overcome the obstinate resistance of Colonel Rawlings, and gained the summit of the hill. The whole garrison now entered the fort or retreated under its guns. The enemy having surmounted the outworks, again summoned the garrison to surrender. His ammunition being nearly expended, and his force incompetent to repel the numbers which were ready on every side to assail him, Colonel Magaw surrendered himself and his garrison, consisting of two thousand men, prisoners of war. The enemy lost in the assault about eight hundred men, mostly Germans. Soon after the second summons, General W Asili NgtoN found ineans to send a billet to Colonel Magaw, requesting him to defend himself until the evening, and he would take measures to bring him off; but the situation of the garrison was too desperate, and the negotiation ilad proceeded too far to make the attempt. The conquest of Mount Washington made the evacuation of Fort Lee necessary. Orders were therefore issued to remove the ammunition and stores in it; but before much progress had been made in this business, Lord Cornwallis crossed the HudNov. 18. son with a number of battalions, with the intention to enclose the garrison between the Hackensack and North rivers. This movembnt inade a precipitate retreat indispensable, which was happily eflected with little loss of men; but a greater part of the artillery, stores, and baggage, was left for the enemy. The loss at Mount Washington was heavy. The regiments captured in it were some of the best troops in the army. The tents, camp-kettles, and stores, lost at this place and at Fort Lee, could not during the campaign be replaced, and for the want of them the men suffered extremely. This lose was unnecessarily sustained. Those posts ought, unquestionably, to have been evacuated before General Howe was in a situation to invest them. When the British General gained possession of the country above those positions, they became in a grent degree useless to the Americans. This opinion is clearly expressed in the letter of General WASHINgton to General Green. The errour to be attributed to the Commander in Chief, consisted in submitting the measure of evacuation to the discretion of a subaltern officer, instead of absolutely directing it, in the exercise of powers vested in him. After the disastrous event had taken place, he possessed too much magnanimity to exculpate himself by criminating General Green.