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it so hard as to oblige the detachments to return from his flanks to its assistance. Thinking that the measure might possibly draw on a general action, he sent for a brigade of British, and the 17th light dragoons from Knyphausen's division, and at the same time gave directions that on their arrival they should take a position for covering his right flank. He then made a dispóisition, and advanced in a direction toward the right of the Ametricans. . . . . . . - . - - - - . This happened while Lee was reconnoitring. The American column to the left of him, under gen. Scott, quitted the wood, crossed a morass, and formed in the plain field, about a hundred yards in front of Maxwell, who expected an opportunity to form his brigade by Scott's moving to the right, as there was a vacancy between the latter and the troops with Lee. These were at that moment moving to the right, and every step they gained , came nearer to the royal forces, who were also pushing to the right of the Americans. Lee's discernment led him initi.ediateJy to send off one of his aids with orders to Scott, whom he Supposed to be in the wood on the other side of the morass, to halt his column, in the wood, and continue there till further orders; - that there might be no possible misconception, another aid was speedily dispatched with similar orders. Before these could be delivered, Scott had mistaken the movements on his right for a retreat; and apprehended danger to his own column in case of its remaining where he was, notwithstanding his detachment , and Maxwell's brigade, with the other troops to the left, made full two-thirds of Lee’s whole command, and though the enemy , appeared to bend their course from the left to the right of the Americans. Under such apprehension, Scott re-crossed the higrass, re-entered the wood, and retreated; Maxwell and the others did the like of course. When the first aid reached that part of the wood to which he had been directed, and found that Scott had marched off the ground, he rode back; while returning he met the second aid, and acquainted him with what häd taken place; upon their coming to Lee, and coin municating their information, the general discovered much surprise, and expressed his disapprobation of Scott's conduct in strong terms; but immediately upon the intelligence, directed a light-horse officer to carry orders to the marquis de la Fayette‘to return to the court-house. A generas retreat now commenced on the right, till the troops reached Freehold and a neighboring wood. When these were quitted, the British pursued as far as the village, where they hasted. Mean while the Americans matched on and passed the next morass in front of Carr's house, about half a mile from the village, The retreats and advances : . Willch. ** - >
*whichtook place were attended with cannonadings on ea^h side"; The halt of the British, on account of the intense heat of thei weather, and their having suffered severely from fatigue, admits <ed of the Americans halting also for a considerable space, which >hcat and fatigue had rendered equally necessary for them. Bufi .upon the advance of the British from Freehoid, and Lee's dis* <'erning that the position he at first meant to occupy with the de-» sign of receiving the enemy and baffling their attack, was noC Suitable ;-the whole of his command, Scott, Maxwell, and the* others having now joined the corps which before formed the* right, were ordered to retreat from the neighbourhood of Carr's* house toward a wood and eminence behind the morass they had crossed in the morning, which had been pointed out to him ass a desirable and proper spot. Before they had wholly left the ground about Carr's house, the British cavalry made a sudderi -and rapid charge upon some parties of the American horse, who; were in the rear reconnoitring. It was expected they would have •attempted a charge on the whole rear, but they did not venture upon it. ••••*> / Soon after Lee with his columns issued out of the woods be'Jow the court-house into the plain, gen. Washington was adtancing with the main body of the army between English-towis and Freehold meeting. Expecting from the information brought him, than the van of Lee's-command and the rear of the British would ere Jong engage, he ordered the right wing under1 ;gen. Greene to go to the right to prevent the enemy's turning* wis right flank- and then prepared to follow with the left wing directly in Lee's rear to support him. While this disposition! was making* he learned, to his great surprise, from a country.man, that the continental troops were retreating. Though the account was confirmed by two or three persons whom he met on the road, after moving a few paces forward, yet he appeared to> ■discredit it, having riot heard any firing except a few cannon a considerable time before. He rode on, and between Freehold meeting and the morass, which he had just crossed, met the retreating troops marching toward the same, as Lee meant that -they should re-pass it and then occupy the ground behind it, where he proposed making a stand against the enemy. Washington was exceedingly alarmed at finding the advanced corps falling back upon the main body, without the least notice giveli him. He desired one of the retreating colonels to march his .inen over the morass, halt them on the eminence, and refresh Ihem. Seeing Lee at the head of the next column, he rode up to hwa with a degree of astonishment and indignation, and proposed Certain questions that implied censure, Lee felt it, and answered Vox. IL Z z witk
with warmth and unsuitable language. Hard and irritating words passed between them for a short space, when Washington rode on toward the rear of the retreating troops. He had not gone many yards before he met his secretary, who told him that the Brie tish army were within fifteen minutes march of that place, which was the first intelligence he received of their pushing on so briskly. He remained there till the extreme rear of the retreating troops got up, when looking about, and judging the ground to be an advantageous spot for giving the enemy the first check, he ordered col. Stewart’s and lieut.-col. Ramsay’s battalions to form, and incline to their left, that they might be under cover of a corner of woods, and not be exposed to the enemy’s cannon in front. Lee having been told by one of his aids, that Wash4 ington had taken the command, answered, “Then I have nothing further to do;” turned his horse and rode after his excellency in front. Washington on his coming up asked, “Will you coma mand on this ground or not? If you will, I will return to the main body and have them formed upon the next height.” Lee replied, “It is equal to me where I command.” Washington then told him, “I expect you will take proper measures for checking the enemy.” Lee said, “Your orders shall be obeyed, and I will not be the first to leave the field.” Washington then rode to the main army, which was formed with the utmost exa pedition on the eminence with the morass in front. Immedia ately upon his riding off a warm cannonade commenced between the British and Amerigan artillery on the right of Stewart and Ramsay ; between whom and the advanced troops of the Bris tish army a heavy fire began soon after in the skirt of the woods before mentioned. The British pressed on close, their lighthorse charged, upon the right of the Americans, and the latter were abliged to give way in such haste, that the British horse and infantry came out of the wood seemingly mixed with thems The action then commenced between the British and col. Liwingston’s regiment together with Varnum's brigade, which had been drawn up by Lee's order, and lined the fence that stretched across the open field in front of the bridge over the morass, with the view of covering the retreat of the artillery and the troops advanced with them. . The artillery had timely, retired to the rear of the fence, and from an eminence discharged several grapes of shot at the British, engaged with Livingston’s and Varnum's troops; these were soon broken by a charge of the former and retired. The artillery were then ordered off. Pri. or to the commencement of the last action, Lee sent orders to col. Ogden, who had drawn up in the wood nearest the bridge, to defend that post to the last extremity, thereby to cover the • -- - tetreat.
retreat of the whole over the bridge. Lee was one of the last
that remained on the field, and brought off the rear of the re
treating troops. Upon his addressing general Washington, after
passing the morass, with—“Sir, here are my troops, how is it your pleasure that I should dispose of them " he was ordered.
to arrange them in the rear of English-town. *
: The check the British received, gave time to make a disposi
tion of the left wing and second line of the main army in the
wood and on the eminence to which Lee had been directed and
was retreating. On this were placed some batteries of cannon'
by lord Stirling, who commanded the left wing, which played
upon the British with great effect, and seconded by parties of infantry detached to oppose them, effectually put a stop to their advance. Gen. Greene, who had early filed off to the right, on intelligence of the retreat of the advanced corps, marched up, and took a very advantageous position on the right of Stirling. The British finding themselves warmly opposed in front, attempted to furn the American left flank, but were repulsed. They also made a movement to the American right, with as little success. Greene having advanced a body of troops with artillery to a commanding piece of ground, which not only disappointed their design, but severely infiladed those in the front of the left wing. Łn addition to this, Wayne advanced with a body of troops, and kept up so severe and well directed a fire, that the British were soon compelled to give way. They retired and took the position about Carr’s house, which Lee had before occupied. Here their flanks were secured by thick woods- and morasses, while their front could be approached only through a narrow pass. Washington however, resolved to attack them; and for that purpose ordered gen. Poor, with his own and the Carolina brigade, to move round upon their right, and gen. Woodward to their left; and the artillery to gall them in front; but they were prevented getting within reach before dark. They remained upon the ground which they had been directed to occupy, during the night, with an intention to begin the attack early the next morning, and the main body continued lying upon their arms in the field of action, to be in readiness for supporting them. During the action, Washington animated his forces by his gallant examPle; and by exposing his person to every danger common to the meanest soldier, taught them to hold nothing too dear for the good of their country. At night he laid down and reposed, himself in his cloak, under a tree, in hope, as may be supposed, 6f a general action the ensuing day; for it appears from several circumstances, that he was all along rather desirous ofthat event, *otwithstanding the prevailing contrary opinion of the go
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neral officers whom he consulted. In the mean time Sir Henry Clinton's troops were employed in removing their wounded; and about twelve o’clock” at night, they marched away in such silence, that though Poor lay extremely near them, their retreat was effected without his knowledge. They left behind them four officers and about forty privates, whose wounds were tog dangerous to permit their removal. - ... " .. 5
-, * * * J. The extreme heat of the weather, the distance Sir Henry haë
gained by marching in the night, and the fatigue of the Amerir cans, made a pursuit on the part of gen. Washington impractio cable and fruitless. It would only have been fatal to numbers of the men, several of whom died on the day of action through the excessive heat; for Farenheit's thermometer was at 96 dea i. in the Jerseys, and is said to have been 1+2 at Philadelphia; It was a deep sandy country through which they marched, als most destitute of water; but had there been a plenty, many more would probably have perished by unguarded drinking to allay their thirst; some were lost in that way. Sir Henry, without having been joined by the brigade of British and the 17th light dragoons from Knyphausen's division, secured by his marigeuwres the arrival of the royal army in the neighborhood of Sandya Hook on the 30th of June, without the loss of either the govera ing party or the baggage; but not without a considerable dimiTution of troops; for by a moderate calculation, from the evad quation of Philadelphia down to that day, about eight hundred deserted, a great number of whom were hessians. By the returns of the officers who had the charge of the burying parties they left 245 non-commissioned and privates on the field, and four sfficers. There were also beside these, several fresh graves and burying holes found near the field, in which they had put their dead before they had quitted it.* Fifty-nine of their soldiers perished without receiving a wound, in the same manner, asseveral of the Americans, merely through fatigue and heat. The loss of lieut.col. Monckton, who was slain, was much lamented