Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

gen. Howe may gain by forcing the troops opposçd to his left column, to retreat. Sullivan is preparing to execute Washington's order, when major Spears comes up and tells him that there is not the least appearance of the enemy in that quarter; which is confirmed by a sergeant Tucker, of the light-horse, seni out purposely to make discoveries. Sullivan conceives it to be his duty to convey Spears's information to the commander in chief.

This unfortunate intelligence deranges the disposition that has 'been determined on in consequence of prior information ; so that

general Greene, who has crossed, with his adyanced-guard, is recalled, Mean while the second or left column of the British army cross the forks of the Brandywine, the first branch at Trinbie's Ford and the second at Jeffery's Ford, about two o'clock in the afternoon, taking from thence the road to Dilworth's, in order to turn the right of the Americans, consisting of three divisions, general Sullivan's, lord Stirling's and another officer's. The British forn and advance in order of battle. Sullivan, upon information of what has taken place, marches to reinforce the two other divisions nearest the British. He takes rather too large a circuit, and is so late upon the ground as to exclude all possibility of making a perfect disposition. Before he has time to side from one end of the line to the other, he is suddenly attacked by numbers unknown to him, and upon ground that he never saw. before ; so that his troops are thrown into confusion, and retreat with the utmost precipitation. This happens between four and five in the afternoon. Generals Washington and Greene being together, and hearing the firing, conclude that Sul. livan is attacked. Greene immediately hastens his first brigade, commanded by gen. Weedon, toward the scene of action with such uncommon expedition, that in forty and two ininutes it advances near four miles. The second brigide is ordered by Washington to march a different route, as it cannot be up in time for service. General Knyphausen, tinding that the parties wit his left are deeply engaged, crosses at Chad's Ford, attacks the division under gen. Wayne and the light troops under Maxwell, obliges them to retire after a severe conflict, and possesses bimself of the entrenchment, battery and cannon which were incant for its defence. Greene, as he approaches the scene of action, perceives that Sullivan's defeat is a perfect route. A council of war was held upon the field, and it is agreed that Greene's brigade should cover the retreat of the flying troops. Greene keeps Hiring his field-pieces in the rear as he retreats, and continues re. treating half a mile, till he comes to a narrow pass, well secured on the right and left by woods. Here he drau's up his force,

consisting of the Virginia troops and a regiment of Pennsylvaya bians, coinmanded by col, Stewart, and sends his artillery on, . Vol. I!.

that

that it may be safe in case of his being under the necessity of making an hasty retreat. A warm engagement commences, which lasts from the sun's being three-quarters of an hour high till dark. The tenth Virginia regiment, commanded by col. Stephens, supports the attack of the British cannonade and musket sy for fifteen minutes, though they have never before been ene gaged. The whole brigade exhibits such a degree of order, firm, ness and resolution, and preserves such a countenance in ex. treinely sharp service, as would not discredit veterans. Wayne and the North-Carolinians, with the artillery and light troops, after their defeat by Knyphausen, pass the rear of it in their re. treat. At dark, that also is withdrawn by gen. Greene; the extreme fatigue of the royal troops, together with the lateness and darkness of the evening, prevents its being pursued.

A few hours more of day-light might have so animated the conquerors, notwithstanding all their fatigue, as to have produced those cxertions which would have been productive of a total and ruinous defeat to the Americans. Gen. Greene is 2pprehensive that they lost in killed, wounded and prisoners, twelve or thirtcen hundred; and that the royal army did not suffer, on their part, short of seven or eight hundred in killed and wounded. The Americans lost also ten small field-pieces and a howitzer, of which all but one were brass.

A great number of French officers were in the action. The baron de St. Ouary, serving as a volunteer, was taken. The corgress will undoubtedly do all they can to obtain his release. Po. licy will oblige them to it, no less than a regard to his rank and inerit in the French army. The marquis de la Fayette gave the first proof of his military character in this engagement, and was wounded in the leg on the spotwhere the effort of the enemy was greatest. The wound hower did not force him from the field, where he continued his endeavors to rally the Americans, as well by his words as exanıple. Count Pulaski, a Polish nobleman, with a party of light-horse, rode up to reconnoitre the enemy, within pistol shot of their front; and on the fourth day after the action, was elected by congress a commander of the horse, with the rank of brigadier. Captain Louis de Fleury's horse was killed under him. He showed much courage, and was so useful in rallying the troops, that congress, within two days, ordered him to be presented with another horse, as a testimonial of the sense they had of his merit. Considering that general Washington had to fight the British army with an inferior number of raw troops, and how the attack upon him was circumstanced, through the false intelligence he received, he may be thought to have suffered less than could have been expected. He discovered a true magnanimity

of mind, in that (though lze attributed the misfortunes of the day principally to the information of major Spears) he never blamed general Sullivan for conveying it, but declared that he should have thought him culpable had it been concealed. He setreated after the action to Chester, and the next day to Philae, delphia...

The evening after the battle, a party of British was sent to Wilmington, who took the governor of the Delaware state, Mr. M:Kinley, out of his bed, and possessed themselves of a shallop Lying in the creek, loaded with the rich effects of some of the inhabitants, together with the public records of the county, a large quantity of public and private money, all the papers and certificates belonging to the loan-office and treasury-office there, articles of plate, &ca. & General Greene has been rather dissatisfied with gen. Washington's, omitting to take special notice of Weedon's brigade in general orders, for its bravery. But the commander in chief, considering that there was a prevailing apprehension that-Greene was his favorite, and that the Virginians were his own state troops, declined it, that so he miglit not excite a disagreeable jealousy, and give offence to the troops of other states.

(Sept. 15.]A letter from Mons. du Coudray to Mr. Chase, was laid before congress and read, “wherein he requests for hinself and sundry gentlemen who accompanied him to this country from France, to have an opportunity of fighting in the American army without running the risk of not being subjects of exchange, should they, by the fortune of war be made prisoners; mentions that any rank which congress may think proper to give him and them, will be acceptable; and asks for him only the rank of captain, for the commissioned officers who accompanied him, the rank of lieutenants, and for the non-commissioned, the rank of ensigns; whereupon: it was resolved, that his request be complied with, and that commissions be - made out accordingly." · The same day gen. Washington left Philadelphia, and re-crossed the Schuylkill, with a firm intent of giving Sir. W. Howe battle wherever he could meet him; he accordingly by the next day had advanced as far as the Warren tavern, on the Lancaster road. Mons. du Coudray, with a number of French gentlemen, set off to join the army as volunteers (Sept. 16.] about twelve o'clock. He rode a young mare, full of spirits, into the flatbottomed boat used for ferrying across the Schuylkill, and not being able to stop her career, she went out at the other end, into the șiver, with her rider on her back. Coudray disengaged him

self

self from her, but was drowned, notwitlastanding all the att tempts made to save him.

General Howe, while marching the army in two columns, toward Gosheni, heard that the Americans were within five miles of it, and immediately determined to push forward and att tack them. Intelligence was brought (Sept. 17.] to general Washington, of his approach. Gen. Sullivan was directed to draw up the American troops in order of battle. Gen. Greene observed, that at a little distance in their rear, was a large piece of water, extending their whole length, and which, in case of a defeat, would prevent their retreating. He rode to gen. Washington, acquainted him with what he had noticed, and asked Wrether he meant that the troops should fight in that situations He was desired to arrange them differently.". Mean time gen. Wayne, with the advance, was engaged with the enemy a cone siderable distance off. While Greene was removing the army to a new position, it began to rain. Soon after it poured like: one incessant thunder shower. It continued raining till the next day. Thus both parties were rendered equally and totally.inca. pable of action. The Americans have reason to be thankful for this providential interposition, as it is highly probable that an. engagement with troops flushed with the preceding victory, bet-, ter disciplined and more experienced, would have determined

greatly to their disadvantage. On examining their arms on-the: · 18th, they were found to be much impaired. Besides all the

ammunition in the cartouch boxes was entirely ruined. General Washington therefore withdrew the army to a place of security, and filed off toward Reading.

Gen. Greene, in company with col. Tilghman, one of Washington's aids, reconnoitred for a position, and fixed upon the . range of mountains from Valley Forge toward the Yellow Springs. He considered the ground as strong, difficult of aceess, and yet allowing of an easy descent; and as favorable for partial active ons without admitting of any very decisive. , Gen. Wayne be-, ing in the rear of Sir William Howe, Greene concluded that the position would bring all the American force partly upon Sir Wila. liam's flank and rear, and within striking distance of him, if he attempted crossing the Schuylkill, and would oblige him to fight the Americans on their own terms. He thought also, that. the position would afford them the probability of beating him;. or at least of so crippling him, as that he would not venture to possess himself of Philadelphia; and that in case of their being beaten, it would afford them a safe retreat. He transmitted his "sentiments to the comniander-in chief by letter, but not before: hearing from him that it had been determined in council, to:

Cross

i cross the 'Schuylkitl above French-creek, and take a position in front of gen. Howe..

On the 19th gen Washington wrote to Wayne - By the advice of the general officers, I have determined that the army in under my inmediate command, cross the Schuylkill at Parker's

Ford, and endeavor to get down in time to oppose the enemy ed in front, whilst the corps under your command, in conjunction

with general Smallwood and colonel Gist, act to the greatest ada vantage in the rear.” -General Howe, upon intelligence that Wayne was lying in the woods with a corps of 1500 men and four pieces of cannon,

ju the rear of tlre left wing of his army, detached general Grey, E on the 20th, fate at night, with two regiments and a body of

light-infantry, to surprise hiin. [Sept. 21.] Grey gained Wayne's Å left about one o'clock in the morning. Some out sentries were

early missed by an American officer going his rounds, and an *alarm was given in time for the men to turn out; but unhappily

for them, Wayne paraded them in the light of their fires, instead of withdrawing them to the back of their encampment. This the British were directed where to rush with their bayonets, as

ordered by their commander, without firing a gun. They did a great execution, killing and wounding near 300 on the spot.

They took between 70 and 80 prisoners, including several officers, a great many arms, and eight waggons loaded with baggage and stores; and had only one captain of light-infantry and three privates killed, and four men wounded. The darkness of the night, and some prudent dispositions of Wayne's, prevent

ed their further success. . In the afternoon of the 22d, Sir William Howe having by va* rious maneuvres drawn gen. Washington 30 miles from Phila

delphia, instead of attacking him upon the right, agreeable to the idea he had seemingly affected to impress, ordered the grenadiers and light infantry of the guards to cross the Schuylkill at Fat Land Ford, and to take post, and the chasseurs to do the same at Gordon's Ford, both below the left of the Americans. At midnight the army moved, and crossed the river at Fat Land Ford Without opposition; the rear-guard, with the baggage, passed it before two in the afternoon, and the whole were encainped by night of the 23d. This event was not expected by the American commander. Advice was received in the night of the enemy's having crossed the river at Gordon's Ford, which was afterward contradicted. This last information was credited, so that when the gentlemen at head-quarters were assured the next morning - that:Howe's army had crossed the Schuylkill and was marching toward Philadelphia, every one was astonished.

The

« ZurückWeiter »