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of lands at the end of the war. In this agreement it was stipulated, that each soldier should have one hundred acres, an ensigni one hundred and fifty, a lieutenant two hundred, a captain three hundred, a major four hundred, a lieutenant-colonel four hun. dred and fifty, and a colonel five hundred. Those who only enlisted for three years were not entitled to any lands. Those who were wounded in the service, both officers and soldiers, were to enjoy half-pay during life. To meet this expense, congress bor. rowed five millions of dollars at five per cent. for which the United States was security.
At the same time a declaration was published tending to animate the people to vigorous exertions, in which they set forth the necessity there was of taking proper methods for securing success. They endeavoured to palliate as much as possible, the mis. fortunes which had already happened ; and represented the true cause of the present distress to be the short term of enlistment.
This declaration, and the imminent danger of Philadelphia, roused the Americans to exert themselves to the utmost, to obtain reinforcements for general Washington's army. An exploit of that general, however, did more to animate the Americans in the cause, than all the declarations of congress. As the royal army extended in different cantonments for a great way, general Washington saw the necessity of making an attempt on some of those divisions which lay nearest to Philadelphia. These happen. ed to be the Hessians, who lay in three divisions, the last only twenty miles from that city. On the twenty-fifth of December, having collected as considerable a force as he could, he set out with an intent to surprise that body of the enemy which lay at Trenton.
His army was divided into three bodies; one of which he ordered to cross the Delaware at Trenton ferry, a little below the town : the second at a distance below, at a place called Bordentown, where the second division of Hessians was placed ; while he himself with the third, directed his course to a ferry some miles above Trenton, which he intended to have passed at midnight, and make the attack at break of day ; but various impediments so far obstructed his plans, that it was eight in the morning before he reached the place of his destination. The enemy however, did not perceive his approach till they were suddenly attacked. Colonel Rahl, their commander, did all that could be expected from a brave and experienced officer; but every thing was in such confusion, that no efforts of valour or skill, could now retrieve matters. The colonel himself was mortally wounded, his troops were entirely broken, their artillery seized, and about one thousand taken prisoners. After this gallant exploit, general Washington returned into Pennsylvania.
This action, though to appearance of no very decisive nature, was what turned the fortune of war in favour of America. It lessened the apprehensions which the Americans had of the Hessians, at the same time that it equally abated the confidence which the British had till now put in them ; it also raised the desponding hopes of the Americans, and gave a new spring to all their operations. Reinforcements now came in from all quarters, and general Washington soon found himself in a condition once more to repašs the Delaware, and take up his quarters in Trenton, where he was emboldened to take his station, notwithstanding that accounts were received of the enemy's rapid advance towards him under lord Cornwallis, who shortly after made his appearance in full force; and on the evening of his arrival, the little town of Trenton contained the two hostile armies, separated only by a small creek, which was fordable in many places.
This was indeed the crisis of the American revolution ; and had his lordship made an immediate attack, in pursuance of what is reported to have been the advice of Sir William Erskine, general Washington's defeat would have been inevitable ; but a night's delay turned the fortune of the war, and produced an enterprize, the magnitude and glory of which, can only be equalled by its success.
A council of war having been called, general Washington stated the calamitous situation to which his army was reduced, and after hearing the various opinions of his officers, finally proposed a cir. cuitous march to Princeton, as the means of avoiding, at once, the imputation of a retreat, and the danger of a battle, with forces so inferior and in a situation so ineligible. The idea was unanimously approved, and as soon as it was dark, the necessary measures were effected for accomplishing it. A line of fires were kindled, which served to give light to the Americans, while it obscured them from the observation of the enemy : the weather, which had been for some time warın and foggy, suddenly changed to a hard frost; and rendered the road, which had been deep and heavy, smooth and firm as a pavement. The Americans considered this as a providential interposition in their favour.
At break of day general Washington was discovered by a party of British troops consisting of three regiments, under the command of colonel Mawhood, near Princeton, on their march to Trenton. With these the centre of the Americans engaged, and after killing sixty, wounding many, and taking three hundred prisoners, obliged the rest to make a precipitate retreat ; some towards Trenton, and others to Brunswick. The loss of the Americans, as to number, was inconsiderable, but the fall of general Mercer was sensibly felt.
The British, astonished and discouraged at the success and spirit of these repeated enterprizes, abandoned both Trenton and Princeton, and retreated to Brunswick; while the Americans in triumph retired to Morristown. General Washington, however, omitted no opportunity in recovering what had been lost, and by dividing his army into small parties, which could be called into general action at a few hours notice, he in a manner almost entire
ly covered the country with it, and took possession of the most important places.
Thus ended the campaign of 1776, with no other real advantage to the British, than the acquisition of New York, and a few for. tresses in the neighbourhood, where the troops were constrained to act with as much circumspection, as if they had been besieged by a victorious army, instead of being themselves the conquerors.
The British in New York began in 1777, to carry on a kind of predatory war, by sending out parties to destroy magazines, make incursions, and take or destroy such forts as lay on the banks of rivers accessible to their shipping ; in this they were generally successful : the provincial magazines at Peek's kill, a place about fifty miles distant from New York, were destroyed; the town of Danbury in Connecticut was burnt, and that of Ridgefield in the same province was taken possession of. The British, however, as they were returning from this last expedition, were harassed by generals Arnold, Wooster, and Sullivan ; but they made good their retreat, in spite of all opposition, with the loss of only seventy killed and wounded. On the American side the loss was much greater: general Wooster was killed, and Arnold was in the most imminent danger. On the other hand the Americans destroyed the stores at Sagg harbour, in the east end of Long Island, and made prisoners of all who defended the place.
As this method of making war answered no cssential purpose, it was resolved to make an attempt on Philadelphia. It was first proposed to pass through the Jerseys to that city: but the impo litic conduct of the British in countenancing the devastation of their plundering parties, had created universal abhorrence, and the large reinforcements which had joined general Washington, who had posted himself so strongly, that it was concluded to be impracticable. Many stratagems were used to draw him from his secure situation, but without success; it was therefore deter, mined to make the attempt by sea.
While the preparations were going forward for this enterprize, the Americans found means to capture general Prescot and one of his aids, who were seized in their quarters, much in the same manner as general Lee had been.
The month of July was far advanced before the preparations for the expedition against Philadelphia were completed, and it was the twenty-third before the fleet was able to sail from Sandy Hook. The force employed in this expedition consisted of thirty six battalions of British and Hessians, a regiment of light ho and a body of loyalists raised at New York. The remainder of the forces, consisting of seventeen battalions, and another body of light horse, were stationed at New York under Sir Henry Clinton; and seven battalions were stationed at Rhode Island..
After sailing about a week, they arrived at the mouth of the Delaware ; but there having received certain intelligence that the navigation of the river was so obstructed that it would be im. possible to force a passage, it was resolved to proceed farther southward to Chesapeake bay, from whence the distance to Phila. delphia was not very great, and where the provincial army would find less advantage from the nature of the country, than in the Jerseys.
The navigation from the Delaware to the Chesapeake took up the best part of the month of August, and that up the bay was difficult and tedious. At last, having sailed up the river Elk as far as possible, the troops were landed without opposition, and moved forward towards Philadelphia.
On the news of their arrival in the Chesapeake, general Wash. ington left the Jerseys, and fled to the relief of the city; and, in the beginning of September, met the royal army at Brandywine creek, about mid-way between the head of Elk and Philadelphia, General Washington practised his former method of skirmishing with, and harassing the army on its march. But as this was found insufficient to stop its course, he retired to that side of the creek next to Philadelphia, with an intent to dispute the passage. A general engagement commenced on the eleventh of September, in which the Americans were defeated ; and, perhaps, the night saved them from total destruction. The Provincials lost, in this engagement, about one thousand killed and wounded, besides four hundred taken prisoners.
The loss of this battle proved the loss of Philadelphia. Gene. ral Washington retired towards Lancaster, an inland town, about sixty miles from Philadelphia. But though he could not prevent the loss of Philadelphia, he still adhered to his original plan of distressing the royal party, by laying ambushes, and cutting off detached parties ; but in this he was not so successful as formerly; and one of his own detachments, which lay in ambush in the woods, were themselves surprised, and entirely defeated, with the loss of three hundred killed and wounded; besides seventy or eighty taken prisoners, and all their arms and baggage.
General Howe finding that the Americans would not venture another battle, even for the sake of their capital, took peaceable possession of it on the twenty-sixtḥ of September. His first care was to cut off by strong batteries, the communication between the upper and lower parts of the river ; which was executed, notwithstanding the opposition of some American armed vessels ; one of which, carrying thirty-six guns was taken. His next task was to open a communication with the sea ; and this was a work of no small difficulty. A vast number of batteries and forts had been erected, and machines formed like chevaux de frize (from whence they took their name) had been sunk in the river, to prevent its navigation.
e As the feet had been sent round to the Delaware in order to cooperate with the army, this work, however difficult; was effected; nor did the provincials give much opposition, well knowing, that all places of this kind were now untenable. General Washington, however, took advantage of the royať army being divided, to at. tack the camp of the principal division of it, that lay at German
town, in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia. In this he met with very little success; for though he reached the place of destination by three o'clock in the morning, the patroles had time to call the troops to arms. The Americans, notwithstanding, made a very resolute attack; but were received with so much bravery, that they were compelled to abandon the attempt, and retreat in great disorder; with the advantage of carrying off their cannon, though pursued a considerable way, after having upwards of two hundred killed, five hundred wounded, and four hundred made prisoners: among whom were fifty-four officers. On the side of the British the loss amounted to four hundred and thirty wounded and pri. soners, and seventy killed; among the last, were general Agnew, and colonel Bird, with some other excellent officers.
There still remained two strong forts to be reduced on the De. laware. These were Mud Island, and Red Bank. The various obstructions which the Americans had thrown in the way, ren: dered it necessary to bring up the Augusta, a ship of the line, and the Merlin frigate, to the attack of Mud Island; but during the heat of the action, both were grounded. The Americans observing this, sent down four fire ships, and directed the whole fire from their galleys against them; but the courage and skill of the British seamen, prevented the former from taking effect. But during the engagement both the Augusta and Merlin took fire, and were burnt; and the other ships were obliged to withdraw.
The 'Americans, encouraged by this, proceeded to throw new obstructions in the way, but the British general having found means to convey a number of cannon, ayd to erect batteries within gunshot of the fort by land, and having brought up three ships of the line, mounted with heavy cannon, and the Vigilant, a large ship cut down so as to draw but little water, mounted with 24 pounders, made, her way to a position from which she might enfi. lade the works on Mud Island. This gave the British such an advantage, that the post was no longer tenable.
Colonel Smith, who had with great gallantry defended the fort from the latter end of September, to the 11th of November, being wounded, was removed to the main ; within five days after his removal, major Thayer, nobly offered to take charge of this dangerous post; but was obliged to evacuate it within twenty-five days. But this event did not take place until the works were en. tirely beat down, every piece of cannon dismounted, and one of the British ships so near, that she threw hand-grenadoes into the fort, and killed the men who were uncovered on the platform. The troops who had so bravely defended fort Miffin, (which was the name given to it) made a safe retreat to Red Bank. Within three days after Mud Ísland was evacuated, the garrison was also withdrawn from Red Bank on the approach of lord Cornwallis. A great number of the American shipping, now entirely without protection, sailed up the river in the night time. Seventeen, however, remained, whose retreat was intercepted, by a frigate