Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

by the British. Upward of a hundred were made prisoners, including the officers and privates left upon the field. On the part of the Americans, lieutenant-colonel Bonner and major Dickinson, officers of distinguished merit, were slain; beside six others of inferior rank, and 61 non-commissioned and priwates. The wounded were 24 officers and rob non-commissioned and privates. The missing amounted to 130, but many of them, having only dropped through fatigue, soon joined the ar. General Washington commended the zeal and bravery. of the officers in general, but particularized Wayne as deserving special commendation. The behavior of the troops in general, after recovering from the first surprise, occasioned by the retreat of the advanced corps, was meationed as what could not be-surPassed. The public acknowledgments of congress were very flattering to the army, and particularly so to the general and his officers. The general having declined all further pursuit, detached only some light troops to attend the motions of the royal forces, and drew of the main body of his army to the borders of the North-River. - - - -- The general, on his second interview with Lee upon the day. of action, intimated by his reinstating and leaving him in the command of the advanced corps, that he meant to pass by what. had happened without further notice; but the latter could not brook the expressiens used by the former at their first meeting; and therefore wrote him two passionate letters, which occasioned his being put under an arrest, and brought to trial four days after. the action, on the following charges, exhibited against him by: his excelleney-1st, For disobedience of orders, in not attacking the enemy on the 28th of June, agreeable to repeated instructio ons—2dly, For misbehavior before the enemy on the same day, by making an unnecessary, disorderly and shameful relreat— 3dly, For disrespect to the commander in chief, in two letters, dated the 1st of July and the 28th of June, The letter dated Łst of July, was so dated through mistake, being written on. the 28th of June. On the 12th of August, the court-martial, at which lord Stirling presided, found him guilty upon every charge, and sentenced him to be suspended from any command: in the armies of the United States of North-America, for the term of twelve months. The terms of the second charge were softencil down, as he was only found guilty of Raisbehavior before the enemy, by making an unnecessary, and in some few in-, stances, a disorderly retreat. Many were displeased with the conduct of the court-martial, and thought he ought not to have been found guilty, except upon the last charge. They argued, “. It appears from Washington's own letter, and other circuum* & -- Stail CCS,

6tances, that it was submitted to Lee's judgment whether to at:

tack, in what manner, and when. There was manifest proof of 3.ee's intending to attack, in hope of cutting off the enemy’s covering party; but he altered his opinion as to the promising prospect he had of doing it, on his coming into the plain, recommoi. iring the enemy, and concluding that they were more numerous than before supposed; and upon finding Scott had quitted the Point of wood where he meant to order him to remain, he judgi ed an immediate retreat necessary. The detachment with which Lee was, amounted to no more than one-third of his whole command ; Scott's column, Maxwell's brigade, and the other troops to his left, being full two-thirds. When he began to res tire, the main body was more than six rhiles distant, though ad? vancing. The enemy’s force was rendered the more formidable by their great superiority in cavalry, which was thought to be bes tween four and five hundred. The ground being open, was by no means advantageous to the Americans, as the British cavalry could have turned their flank. Would then an immediate-attack, under thcse circumstances, though it might have distress, ed the enemy's rear on the first onset, have been advisable, as it might probably have involved a general action before the deo tachment could have received support? Did not prudence dictate falling back and taking a new position, rather than hazarding art action in the plain * If Lee's judgment determined for the affir. mative, how could he be declared guilty of disobeying orders?” The circumstances already noted are in favor of the retreat’s being necessary in the first instance; and when commenced, the prosecution of it was absolutely necessary till, a good position could be taken for making an effectual stand against the enemy; to which position Lce was marching when met by Washington; The strenuous efforts of the British after the main army was drawn up in that position, before they retired three miles from the scene of action, tend also to justify the commencement of the retreat. No mention should have been made of its being in a few instances, unless such instances were really chargeable to Łee's misconduct; whereas of these few it is certain, that some were owing to fatigue and the enormous heat of the weather. The very sentence of the court-martial is in favor of Łee’s innocence as to the two first charges; for a year's suspension from command is in no wise proportioned to his crimes, if guilty. Several are of opinion that he would not have been condemned on these two, had it not been for his disrespectful conduct toward Washington. On the other hand, some have surmised, that his mianoeuvres were owing either to treachery or want of courage; but

- - - they

they who have the opportunity of knowing him most, will be furtherest from such apprehensions.” . . . ... No sooner had Sir Henry Clinton with the army evacuted Philadelphia, than lord Howe prepared to sail with the fleet for New-York. Repcated calms retarded his passage down the Delaware, so that he could not quit the river till the evening of June the 28th : however he anchored off Sandy-Hook the next day, followed by the transports. The succeeding day Sir Henry arrived, and the artillery, baggage, and part of the troops were removed from the main, as the weather permitted : the rest of the army passed, on the 5th of July, over a bridge of boats across a narrow channel to Sandy-Hook. They were afterward carried up to New-York. On the 7th, lord Howe received advice: that the Toulon squadron was arrived on the coast of Virginia. ‘scount d'Estaing anchored at night on the 8th at the entrance of the Delaware, after being 87 days at sea. On that day the count wrote to congress: on the receipt of his letter, they sent word .to gen. Washington, that it was their desire he would co-operate with the count, in the execution of such offensive operations as they should mutually approve. The same day the congress resolved that a suitable house should be provided for Monsieur Gerard and chose a committee of five to wait on him upon his arrival, and conduct him to his lodgings. The next morning d’Estaing weighed and sailed toward the Hook, and in the evening of the 11th anchored without it. Had not bad weather and unexpected impediments prevented, the count must have surprised Howe's fleet in the Delaware, as the latter would not have had time to escape after being apprized of his danger.— The destruction of the fleet must have been the consequence of ‘such surprisal; and that must have occasioned the incvitable loss of the royal army, which would have been so cmclosed by the French squadron on the one side, and the American forces on the other, that the Saratoga catastrophe must have been repeated. This fatal stroke would have been of an amount and magnitude (with respect to both the marine and land Service, and the conscquences hanging upon it) not easily to be conceived. The prevention of it, by the various hindrances that d’Estaing met with on his voyage, ought to be considered by Great-Britain as a signally providential deliverance. Lord Howe's fleet consisted only of six 64 grin ships, three of 50, and two of 40, with some frigates and sloops. Count

- * In compiling several of the preceding pages, recourse has been had to the public letters of Sir Henry Clinton and gen. Washington, to various private ict:<ri and information, and to gen, Lee's trial.

d'Estaing

•d'Estaing had twelve ships of the line, ^several of which were fljl great force and weight of inetal, one carrying 90, another 80, and six 74 guns each ; he had beside present with him three of the four stout large frigates that had attended him on his voyager He anchored on the Jersey side, about four miles without the Hook; and American pilots of the first abilities, provided for the purpose, went on board the fleet: among them were .person* "Whose circumstances placed them above the rankof common pi* lots. Lord Howe had the advantage of possessing the harbor formed by Sandy-Hook, the entrance of which is covered by a bar, and from whence the inlet passes to New-York, As itcoul^ Jio be known whether the French would not attempt passing.in force over the bar, it was necessary that the British should be pre* pared to oppose them. On this occasion a spirit displayed itself not only in the fleet and army, but through every order and denomination of seamen, that is notoften equalled. Thecrews of the transports hastened with eagerness to the fleet, that it might be completely manned; masters and mates solicited employment, and took their stations at the guns with the common sailors, the light-infantry, granadiers, and even wounded officers so contended to serve as marines on board the men of war, that the point of honor was obliged to be decided by lot In a word, the patriotism, zeal, bravery and magnanimity which appeared at this juncture, was a credit even to Great-Britain. It must however be acknowledged, that the popularity of lord Howe, and the confidence founded on his abilities, contributed not a little to these exertions. But the American pilots declaring it impossible to cany the large ships of d'Estaing's squadron over the bar into the Hook, on account of their draught of water, and gen. Washington pressing him to sail to Newport, he left the Hook after eleven days tarriance, [July 22.] and in a few hours was out" of sight. Nothing could be more providential. While he remained, about twenty sail of vessels bound to New-York fell into his possession : they were chiefly prizes taken from the Americans; but had he stayed a few days longer admiral Byron's fleet must have fallen a defenceless pray into his hands. That squadron had met with unusual bad weather and being separated in different storms, and lingering through a tedious pa** sage, arrived, scattered, broken, sickly, dismasted, or otherwise damaged, in various degrees of distress, upon different and rey mote parts of the American coast. Between the departure of d'Estaing and the thirtieth of July, the Renown of 50 guns from the West-Indies, the Raisonable* and Centurion of 64 and 50 from Hallifax, and the Cornwall of 14 guns, all arrived singly at Sandy-Hook. By his speedy departure a number of grovis*. »n ships from Cork escaped also, together with their convoy.-*They went up the Delaware within fitly miles of Philadelphia after lord Howe had quitted the river, not having obtained any information of what had happened. The British ministry hact neglected countermanding their destination, though- orders fui the evacuation of Philadelphia had been sent Off so early as to have admitted of their receiving fresh directions where to have Steered, before sailing. Great rejoicings'were made at New, York upon their safe arrival, especially as provisions were much "wanted by both the fleet and army.

* As the bar prevented all attempts on the. part of d'Estairicj Against Howe's fleet within the Hook, a plan was concerted for Attacking Rhode-Island ;' and gen. Sullivan, who commanded at Providence, was employed in assembling an additional body of New-England militia. Such was the eagerness of people to co4 Operate with their new allies, and their confidence of succeeding and reaping laurels, that some thousands of volunteers, gentlemen and others from Boston, Salem, Newbury-Port, Ports^ mouth, &c. engaged in the service. When d'Estaing was a,rrivtd'off point Judith'on the 29th, the pilots who were to havcV facilitated his entrance into Newport, were wanting, which oc~casioned a delay. But on the morning of August the 5th, his operations commenced, when the British set fire to the Orphctis, Lark, Juno and Cerbarus frigates and several other vesseis at the appearance of two of his fleet standing in near Prudence island to attack them. The Flora and Falcon were sunk afterward. The next day the American troops marched from Providence to Tiverton under the command of general Greene, who had been dispatched by gen. Washington from the main army to assist in the expedition. His excellency also sent on the marquis de la Fayette at the head of two thousand troops, who by a rapid im'arch joined the militia in season. Gen. Sullivan's first letter to. the count informed him, that he was not ready to act, and desired that the attack might be suspended.. It was agreed between them that they should land their forces at Portsmouth on the.tenth in the morning. On the eighth the French fleet went tip the middle passage leading into Newport harbour, .when the British batteries began a severe cannonade, which was returned "Vrith great warmth.

"The royal troops on the island, having been just reinforced .\vkh five battalions, were about 6000 under the command of Sir Robert Pigot, who took every possible means of defcnccl 'The force under general Sullivan was composed of about 10,000 Then. Upon his receiving intelligence early on the ninth, that jlne enemy had evacuated their works on the north end of the U. A3' Sand, *

« ForrigeFortsett »