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stheir masters to quit the stable at night, when wanted for a para 'ticular service. The shifting of the wind put an end to it, and kuat midnight it was succeeded by a bright inoon and star-light. *The degree to which it arose was different in different places.
In most parts of the country it was so great in the day-time, that the people could not tell the hour by either watch or clock, nor dine, nor manage their domestic business, without the light of candles. The birds having sung their evening songs, disapa , peared and were silent; pigeons and fowls retired to roust; the cockscrew as at day-break; objects could not be distinguished but at a very little distance; and every thing bore the appeara "ance and gloom of night. The extent of this darkness was extraordinary. It was observed as far east as Falmouth. To the westward it reached to the furthest part of Connecticut, and to, *Albany. To the southward, it was observed along the 'scacoasts, and to the north as far as the American settlements extend. We are told that a vessel at sea found herself enclosed for a while in a cloud' of this darkness, and as she sailed, passed instantly from the verge of it into a clear light.“ • This phænomenon appears to have been owing to the clouds being highly charged with smoke, which they had been collecting for days, from the fires in the back country. It is the Amnerican custom to make large fires in the woods, for the purpose of clearing the lands in the new settlements. This was praca tised in the spring of the present year in a much greater degree
than usual, through the interruption that had been given to that - business for a few years, by the war. In the county of York; in the western parts of New-Hampshire and Massachusetts; and in Vermont, unconimonly large fires had been kept up to the extent of many score miles, all around the frontiers. Thus the people in the new towns had been employed for two or three weeks; beside, some large and extensive fires had raged in the woods for several days, before they could be extinguished. The weather being clear, the air weighty, and the wind sinall and variable for several days, the smoke, instead of dispersing, rose, and constantly collected in the air, till the atmosphere was load. ed with such an uncommon quantity of it as proved, in combination with other vapors, the parent of the preceding darkness. * ** Let us proceed to our military narrative, * Eleven days [June 6.] previous to Sir Henry Clinton's are rival at New-York from Charleston, the generals Knyphausen,
** See Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, vol. i. po 033. Bofon, priatsd 37850 VOL. III.
Robertson, Tryon and Sterling, passed over by night, 'with 5000 men, from Staten Island to Elizabeth-town Point. Colonel Dayton, who cominanded some militia, hearing that they were com ing in force, went and reconnoitred, and placed a guard of twelve men in advance, whom he ordered to oppose the enemy as long as they could, and then retire. Sterling being the youngest ge neral, commanded the advanced corps, and was fired upon and wounded in the knee by the twelve, shortly after the debarkation; this however occasioned no long delay. The royal troops entered Elizabeth-town (June 7.] very early in the morning; where they observed strict discipline and great decorum. They thenadvanced to Connecticut Farms, about five miles distant. In this neighbor hood lived the rev. Mr. James Caldwell, the Presbyterian minister of Elizabeth-town. The active part he had taken in support of the American cause, and his successful influenc in spiriting up the Jersey people to oppose the British forces, rendered him an object of their keenest resentment, and made it insecure for him to reside in his own town. Upon the news of the enemy's advancing, he writhdrew from his present habitation, and supi posing that it might be done with safety, left his wife and chil dron behind. Mrs. Caldwell, however, was afterward fearful of staying, Jest there should be firing in the street, tillcoli Daytok advised her to continue, as he should not suffer it in his troops, which would prevent the danger of it from the enemy. He accordingly marched the militia from the Farms, on to a pass leadw ing to Springfield of which he possessed himself. Soon after, the royal forces arrived in the neighborhood of the Farms, when a soldier came to the house, and putting his gun to the window of the room where Mrs. Caldwell was sitting (with her children, and a maid with an infant in her arms along side of her) fired and shot her instantly dead. The body, at the earnest request of an officer of the new levies was with some difficulties suffered to be carried to a small house at a distance, before Mr. Caldwell's dwelling was set on fire and consumed, together with every thing belonging to him. The enemy burnt about a dozen other houses, and the Presbyterian meeting, and then marched toward Springfield. Col. Dayton, with the militia that joined the few taken with him, fought them for a while at the pass he had occupiedi On their approaching the bridge near the town, they found a small body of continental troops under general Maxwell, and a number of militia hastily collected within a few hours, posted at the place; they therefore halted, and continued on the same ground till night, when the design of attacking Springfield was given up and they returned to Elizabeth-town in a degree of confusion.
* No sooner had intelligence of their excursion reached Morrisa: town, than a detachment of the American army was ordered to Springfield : this, however, when joined to the force already there, would have been no wise equal to the royal army. The whole number of continentals did not exceed two thousand five hundred men. It was thought by the Americans, that the ene." ny's intentions, when they came out, were to drive general Washington from Morris-town, and to spread desolation through that part of the country. General Greene, considering the strength of the enemy and the weakness of the continental ariny, was desirous that the commander in chief would change his po.. sition, under the plea of marching to guard the heights of thc North-River, on the assumed supposition, that the real design of the enemy was against them, and that Knyphausen's attack was only meant as a feint ; but the sudden return of the latter to Eliza. : beth-town rendered the measure for the present unnecessary. The murder of Mrs. Caldwell may be viewed as the act of a singlesoldier; but the burning of houses must be placed to the account of the commanding officers. These events excited such an enthusia" astic rage, that the militia-turned out with remarkable spirit, and did themselves great honor. The commander in chief, in his subsequent general orders; highly commended the behavior of the militia, and all the corps concerned in opposing Knyphausen, and said Colonel Dayton merits particular thanks.” The enemy had been told; before they entered on the trial, that should they march 5000 men into Jersey, the inhabitants; dispirited to the utınost on account of the misfortune to the southward, would submit without resistance, and that the soldiery of the continen. tal army would desert to them on every occasion. This army, without suffering by desertions, would not have been able to have kept the field, but for the assistance of the Jersey militia.' Its weakness was occasioned by the numbers who had left it , when their inlistment was out, by its not having been joined by a single draught, nor received two hundred recruits from all the states east of Maryland, and by the troops that had been senton for the protection of the Carolinas. It received no other reinforcements but militia, til after the destruction of Springfield.
The royal forces remained at Elizabeth-town, Sir H. Clinton on: his arrival at New-York, determined to improve on the original design, and to afford them an opportunity of acting with effect; for this purpose troops were embarked, and such preparations made, as indicated an immediate expedition up the NorthRiver. Upon this general Washington, to be ready in case of any real design against West-Point, or other strong holds.in tired
Highlands, marched with the greatet part of the army toward Pompton on the 21st, leaving about 700 men with the horse un. der the command of general Greene. His march was so slow, (as he meant not to increase his distance from Greene beyond what was necessary) that he was only about eleven miles from Morris-town the next day. In the afternoon Greene sent off an express to him with this note ' June 22d, Springfield, 5 o'clock.
Mr. and this moment returned from Elizabeth-town, says, that the British army will be in motion this evening. The gentleman is to meet the British at the West-Farms this evening a" little back of Newark. He left the enemy at three o'clock this afternoon, and appears to be in great trepidation." It was in a few hours followed by a second " 10 o'clock. I have been impatiently waiting in consequence of the intelligence from M. Pn . He says he is employed by your excellency. May not the enemy be apprized of his being a double spy, and endeavour to play him off accordingly?” The third put general Washington out of all further suspence" 23d, 6 o'clock. The enemy are out on their march toward this place in full force, having received a considerable reinforcement last night.” When it got to hand, his excellency ordered a part of his troops to return and support Greene; but the action was over, and the enemy retreated before it could reach him.
* The royal army advanced from Elizabeth-town about 5 in the morning. Their march was rapid and compact, and in two com lumns one on the main road leading to Springfield, the other on the Vauxhall road e The American troops were necessarily so extended, that general Greene had scarce time to collect them at Springfield, and make the necessary dispositions, ere the enemy appeared before the town, when a cannonade commenced on each side. They continued manoeuvring in Greene'e front for upwards of two hours. He disposed of the troops in the best man.. ner he could to guard his flanks, secure a retreat, and oppose the advance of their columns. Colonel Angell, with his regiment, and several small detachments and one piece of artillery, was posted to secure the bridge in front of the town. Col. Shrieve's regiment was drawn up at the second bridge, to cover the retreat of those posted at the first. Major Lee, with his dragoons and the pickets, were posted at Little-Bridge, on the Vauxhall road, and col. Ogden was detached to support them. The remainder of general Maxwell's and Stark's brigade were drawn up on high grounds. The militia were on the flanks. While the enemy were making appearances of operation on their left, their right Column advanced on major Lee. The bridge was disputed with
great obstinacy: but the enemy, by fording the river and gaining the point of a hill, obliged the major with his party to give up the pass. At this instant their left column began the attack on colonel Angell; the action was severe, and lasted about forty minutes, when superior numbers overcame obstinate bravery, and forced the Americans to retire over the second bridge, where the evemy were warmly received by colonel Shrieve's reginent; but as they advanced in great force, with a large train of artilJery, he had orders to join the brigade. Greene would have made a detachment in time for the support of Angell, but was in ex pectation that the royalists would ford the river, the dangerous consequence of which was to be guarded against. The advantages they had now gained, made it adviseable for gen. Greene to take post with his troops upon a range of hills, where the roads are brought so near to a point, that succour can readily be given from one to the other, Being thus commodiously posted, the general hoped that they would have attempted to gain the heights; but they declined it, and began fixing the town. Near fifty dwella ing houses were burnt, and the whole village, excepting four houses, was reduced to ashes. This conflagration closed the enterprise. The strength of Greene's situation, the difficulties of the approach, an ignorance of his real force, and the bold defence made at the bridge, might severally concur in preventing all further attempt to penetrate through the intervening hills and des files, that they might gain possession of Morris-town, and destroy the American stores, magazines and defences there and in the neighbourhood, which appears to have been their first object. They made a second retreat from Springfield, being pursued with great spirit and redoubled animosity by the militia (who were highly enraged at the conflagration they had just beheld) till they entered Elizabeth-town, which was about sun-set. They passed on to Elizabeth-town Point, where they continued until , twelve at night, and then began to cross to Staten Island ; by six the next morning they had totally evacuated the Point, and removed their bridge. They had suffered considerably on the 23d, but Greene's loss was trifling, not more than twenty killed, and about sixty wounded. The American commander in chief, in general orders of the 26th, returned his warmest thanks to general Greene and all the officers, for the good conduct and gal lantry they had displayed ; and took particular notice of colonel Angell and his regiment i
When congress had received information from the Marquis de la Fayette, of the preparation his most Christian majesty was making to aid the United States with a powerful naval and mili