Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

bis inexperienced troops under subordination, and to excite in them military ardour, without which he could have no hope of successful warfare. In general orders, he called upon officers to be cool in action, and upon the soldiery to be obedient to orders, and to be firm and courageous. He directed, that any soldier, who deserted his ranks in time of battle, should be immediately shot down. He desired commanders of corps to report to him every instance of distinguished bravery in the soldiery, with promise of honorary reward. He endeavoured, by the love of liberty, of country, and of posterity, to animate his army to do their duty. “ The time,” he observed," is now at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be free men or slaves.; (whether they are to have any property they can call their own; whether their houses and farms are to be pillaged and destroyed, and themselves consigned to a state of wretchedness, from which no human efforts will deliver them. The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.

Our cruel and unrelenting enemy leaves us only the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have to resolve to conquer, or to die. Our own, our country's honour call upon us for a vigorous and manly exertion; and if we now shamefully fail, we shall become infamous to the whole world. Let us then rely on the goodness of our cause, and on the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hand victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble actions. The eyes of all our country,

men are now upon us, and we shall have their blessing and praises, if happily we are the instruments of saving them from the tyranny meditated against them. Let us therefore animate and encourage each other, and shew the whole world, that a freeman, contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."

July 21.] In the communication to his army of the success of the Americans at Fort Moultrie near Charleston, he thus laboured to excite them to emulate the bravery of their countrymen in South Carolina.

“ This glorious example of our troops, under the like circumstances with ourselves, the General hopes, will animate every officer and soldier to imitate, and even to outdo them, when the enemy shall make the same attempt on us.

With such a bright example before us, of what can be done by brave men, fighting in defence of their country; we shall be loaded with a double share of shame and infamy, if we do not acquit ourselves with courage, and manifest a determined resolution to conquer or die. With the hope and confidence that this army will have an equal share of honour and success, the General most earnestly exhorts every officer and soldier to pay the utmost attention to his arms and health; to have the former in the best order for action, and by cleanliness and care to preserve the latter ; to be exact in their discipline, obedient to their superiors, and vigi1ant on duty. With such preparations, and a suitable spirit, there can be no doubt but, by the

.

blessing of Heaven, we shall repel our cruel invaders, preserve our country, and gain the greatest honour.”

In the immediate view of the arduous conflict, the General once more endeavoured to inspire bis army with the heroism necessary successfully to sustain it.

“ The enemy's whole reinforcement is now arrived,” said he," so that an attack must, and soon will be made. The General, therefore, again repeats his earnest request, that every officer and soldier will have his arms and ammunition in good order ; keep within his quarters and encampment as much as possible; be ready for action at a moment's call; and when called to it, remember, that liberty, property, life, and honour are all at stake ; that upon their courage and conduct, rest the hopes of their bleeding and insulted country; that their wives, children, and parents, expect safety from them alone; and that we have every reason to believe that Heaven will crown with success so just a cause.

“ The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by show and appearance ; but remember, they have been repulsed, on various occasions, by a few brave Americans. Their cause is bad ; their men are conscious of it; and if opposed with firmness and coolness on their first onset, with our advantage of works, and knowledge of the ground, the victory most assnredly is ours. Every good soldier will be silent and attentive, wait for orders, and reserve his fire until he is sure of doing execution; of this the officers are to be particularly careful.”

The possession of Long Island is essential to the defence of New York. It had been determined in a council of war, to fortify a camp at Brooklyn, fronting New York; and stretching across that end of Long Island, from East river to Gowan's cove. The rear of this encampment was defended by batteries on Red Hook and Governor's Island, and by works on East river, which secured the communication with the city. In front of the encampment, ran a range of hills from east to west across the island. These were covered with wood, and were steep, but could any where be ascended by infantry. Over this range were three passes, leading by three roads, to Brooklyn ferry.

A strong detachment of the American army was posted on Long Island, under the command of General Green, who made himself intimately acquainted with the passes on the hills; but unfortunately becoming sick, General Sullivan succeeded him in this command, only a few days before active operations commenced. The main body of the American army remained on York Island. A flying camp, composed of militia, was formed at Amboy, to prevent the depredations of the enemy in New Jersey; and a force was stationed near New Rochelle, and at East and West Chester on the Sound, to check the progress of the enemy, should they attempt to land above King'sbridge, and inclose the Americans on York Island. The head quarters of General Washington were in the city, but he was daily over at Brooklyn, to

inspect the state of that camp, and to make the best arrangements circumstances would admit.

An immediate attack being expected on Long Island, General Sullivan was reinforced, and directed carefully to watch the passes.

On the 26th, the main body of the British troops, with a large detachment of Germans, landed under cover of the ships, on the south-western extremity of Long Island. A regiment of militia stationed on the coast, retreated before them to the heights. A large reinforcement was sent to the camp at Brooklyn, and the command of the post given to General Putnam, who was particularly charged to guard the woods, and to hold himself constantly prepared to meet the as sault of the enemy.

On the same day, the British, in three divisions, took post upon the south skirt of the wood; General Grant upon their left, near the coast; the German General de Heister in the centre at Flatbush ; and Gen. Clinton upon their right at Flatland. The range of hills only now separated the two armies, and the different posts of the British were distant from the American camp, from four to six miles. Upon their left, a road to Brooklyn lay along the coast by Gowan's cove, before General Grant's division. From Flatbush, a direct road ran to the American camp, in which the Germans might proceed. General Clinton might either unite with the Germans, or take a more eastern route, and fall into the Jamaica road by the way of Bedford. These three roads uni

« ZurückWeiter »