Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

the road learling from the Narrows. MajorGeneral Sullivan, who commanded all the troops. without the lines, proceeded with a very considerable body of New Englanders on the road leading directly to Flat Bush, and another detach. ment occupied the heights between that place and Bedford.

About break of day, Lord Sterling reached the summit of the hills, where he was joined by the troops which had been already engaged, and were retiring slowly before the enemy, who, almost immediately, appeared in sight. Having posted his men advantageously, a warm cannonade was commenced on both sides, which continued for several hours; and some sharp, but not very close skirmishing, took place between the infantry. Lord Sterling, being only anxious to defend the pass he guarded, could not descend in force from the heights; and General Grant did not wish to drive him from them, till that part of the plan which had been entrusted to Sir Henry Clinton should be executed. · In the centre, General de Heister, soon after day-light, began to cannonade the troops under General Sullivan; but did not move from his ground, at Flat Bush, until the Britisha right hadapproached the left and rear of the American line. In the mean time, in order the more effectually to draw their attention from the point where the VOL. II.

LL

grand

grand attack was intended, the fleet was put in motion, and a very heavy cannonade commenced, and kept up on the battery at Red-Hook... · About half-past eight o'clock, the British right having then reached Bedford, in the rear of Sullivan's left, General de Heister ordered Colonel Donop's corps to advance to the attack of the hill, following himself with the centre of the army. The approach of Clinton was now discovered by the American left, which immediately endeavoured to regain the camp at Brooklyn. They were re tiring from the woods by regiments, with their cannon, when they encountered the front of the British, consisting of the light infantry and light dragoons, who were soon supported by the guards. About the same time the Hessians advanced from Flat Bush against that part of the detachinent which occupied the direct road to Brooklyn *. Here General Sullivan commanded in person; but he found it. extremely difficult to keep his troops together, even long enough to sustain the first attack. The firing heard towards Bedford had disclosed to them the alarming fact, that the British had turned their left flank, and were getting completely into their rear. Perceiving at once the full danger of their situation, they sought to escape it by regaining the camp with the

.. General Howe's letter.

. .
ci utmost

TS

utmost possible celerity. The sudden route of this party enabled de Heister to detach a part of his force against those who were engaged near Bedford. In that quarter, too, the Americans were broken, and driven back into the woods; and the front of the column, led by General Clinton, continuing to move forward, intercepted and engaged those who were retreating along the direct road froin Flat Bush. Thus attacked both in front and rear, and alternately driven by the Bri. tish on the Hessians, and by the Hessians back again on the British, a succession of skirmishes took place in the woods; in the course of which, some parts of the corps forced their way through the enemy, and regained the lines of Brooklyn, and several individuals saved themselves under cover of the woods; but a great proportion of the detachment was killed or taken. The fugitives, were pursued, up to the American works; and such is represented to have been the ardour of the British soldiery, that it required the authority of their cautious Commander to prevent an immediate attempt to carry them by storm.

The fire towards Brooklyn gave the first intimation to the American right, that the enemy had gained their rear. Lord Sterling perceived 'the danger with which he was threatened, and that he could only escape it by instantly retreating across the creek in his rear, near the Yellow Mills;

I L2 . . not

SCC

ere

wn

not far from the cove. Orders to this effect were immediately given; and, the more effectually to secure the retreat of the main body of the detachment, he determined to attack, in person, a corps of the British under Lord Cornwallis, stationed at a house somewhat above the place at which he proposed crossing the creek. About four hundred men, of Smallwood's regiment, were drawn out for this purpose, and the attack was made with great spirit. This small corps was brought up several times to the charge, and Lord Sterling stated that he was on the point of dislodging Lord Cornwallis from his post, but the force in his front increasing, and General Grant also adyancing on his rear, the brave men he commanded were no longer able to oppose the superior numbers which assailed them on every quarter, and those who survived, were, with their General, made prisoners of war. This bold and welljudged attempt, however, 'was not without its advantages. It gave an opportunity to a large part of the detachment to save themselves by crossing the creek,

The loss sustained by the American army, on this occasion, was very considerable, but could not be accurately ascertained by either party. Numbers were supposed to have been drowned in the creek, or suffocated in the marsh, whose bodies were never found ; and exact accounts

from

from the militia are seldom to be expected, as the list of the missing is always swelled by those who return to their homes. General Washington did not admit it to exceed a thousand men ; but, in this estimate, he could only have included the regular troops. In the letter written by General Howe, he states the prisoners to have amounted to one thousand and ninety-seven, among whom were Major-General Sullivan, and Brigadiers Lord Sterling and Woodhull, by him named Udell. He computes the loss of the Americans at three thousand three hundred men ; but this computation is, probably, excessive. He supposes, too, that the troops engaged on the heights amounted to one thousand; but it is impossible they could have much exceeded half that number. The loss of the enemy is stated, by General Ilowe, at twenty-one officers and three hundred and forty-six privates, killed, wounded, and taken. "

As the action became warm, General Washington passed over to the camp at Brooklyn where he saw, with inexpressible anguish, the destruction in which his best troops were involved, and from which it was impossible to extricate then. Should he attempt any thing in their favour, with the men reniaining within the lines of Brooklyn, it was probable, from the superiority of the enemy, that the camp itself would be lost, and that whole division of his army destroyed. Should he bring L13

over

« ZurückWeiter »