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end of June. He was soon followed by his brother, Admiral Howe, and their whole force was assembled about the middle of July, and in apparent readiness for opening the campaign. Before hostilities were commenced, the British General and Admiral, in their quality of civil commissioners for effecting a reunion between Great Britain and the Colonies, made an attempt at negociation. To introduce this business, they sent a hag ashore with a letter addressed to George Washington, Esq. This he refused to receive, as not being addressed to him with the title due to his rank, and at the same time wrote to Congress, " i hat he would not, on any occasion, sacrifice essentials tó punctilio, but in this instance, deemed it a duty to his country to insist on that respect which, in any other than a public view, he would willingly have waved.” Some time after, Adjutant General Patterson was sent by Gen. Howe with a letter addressed to George Washington, &c. &c. &c. On an interview, the Adjutant General, after expressing his high esteem for the person and character of the american general, and declaring that it was not intended to derogate from the respect due to his rank, expressed his hopes, that the et ceteras would remove the impediments to their correspondence. Gen. Washington replied, “That a letter directed to any person in a public character, should have some description of it, other. wise it would appear a mere private letter; that it was true the et ceteras implied every thing, but they also implied any thing, and that he should therefore decline the receiying any letter directed to him as a private person, when it related to his public station” A long conference ensued, in which the Adjutant General observed, that “the Commissioners were armed with great powers, and would be very happy in effecting an accommodation." He received for answer, “ that from what appeared, their powers were only to grant pardons ; that they who had committed no fault wanted no pardon.”
On the arrival of Gen. Howe at Staten Island, the American army did not exceed ten thousand men, but by sundry reinforcements before the end of August, they amounted to twenty seven thousand. Of these a great part were militia, and one fourth of the whole was sick. The diseases inci. dent to new troops prevailed extensively, and were aggravated by a great deficiency in tents. These troops were so judiciously distributed on York Island, Long Island, Governor's Island, Paulus Hook, and on the Sound toward New Ro. chelle, East and West Chester, that the enemy were very cautious in determining when or where to commence of. fensive operations. Every probable point of debarkation was watched, and guarded with a force sufficient to embarrass, though very insufficient to prevent a landing. From the arrival of the British army at Staten Island, the Americans were in daily expectation of being attacked. General Washington was therefore strenuous in preparing his troops for action. He tried every expedient to kindle in their breast the love of their country, and an high toned indignation against its invaders. In general orders he addressed them as follows. « The time is now near at hand, which must probably determine whether Americans are to be freemen 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 ihis army. Our cruel and unrelenting enemy, leaves usonly the choice of a brave resistance, or the most abject submission. We have therefore to resolve to conquer or to die. Our own, our country's honour, calls 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 the aid of the Supreme Being, in whose hands victory is, to animate and encourage us to great and noble. actions. The eyes of all our countrymen are now upon us, and we shall have their blessings 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 show the whole world that a'freeman contending for liberty on his own ground, is superior to any slavish mercenary on earth."
When the whole reinforcements of the enemy bad arrived, Gen. Washington, in expectation of an immediate attack, again addressed his army, and called on them to remember that “ liberty, property, lise, and honour, were all at stake; that upon their courage and conduct, rested the hopes of their bleeding and insulted country; that their wives, children, and parents, expected safety from them only ; and that they had every reason to believe that Heae ven would crown with success so just a cause." He farther added : « The enemy will endeavour to intimidate by show and appearance, but remember they have been re. pulsed 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 is most assuredly 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."
He then gave the most explicit orders that any soldier who should attempt to conceal himself, or retreat without orders, should instantly be shot down, as an example of the punishment of cowardice, and desired every officer to be particularly attentive to the conduct of his men, and report those who should distinguish themselves by brave and noble actions. These he solemnly promised to notice and reward.
On the 22d of August, the greatest part of the British troops landed on Long Island. Washington immediately made a farther effort to rouse his troops to deeds of valour. “ The enemy," said he,“ have landed, and the hour is fast approaching on which the honour and success of this army, and the safety of our bleeding country, depends. Remember, officers and soldiers, that you are freemen, fighting for the blessing of Liberty ; that slavery will be your portion and that of your posterity, if you do not acquit yourselves like men.
Remember how your courage has been despised and traduced by your cruel invaders, though they have found by dear experience at Boston, Charlestown, and other places, what a few brave men, contending in their own land, and in the best of causes, can do against hirelings and mercenaries. Be cool, but determined. "Do not fire at a distance, but wait for orders from your officers.” He repeated his injunctions, “ to shoot down any person who should mis. behave in action," and his hope that none so infamous would be found, but that, on the contrary, each for himself resolving to conquer or die, and trusting to the smiles of
Heaven on so just a cause, would behave with bravery and resolution.” His assurance of rewards to those who should distinguish themselves, “ that if the army would but emulate and imitate their brave countrymen in other parts of America, they would, by a glorious victory, save their country, and acquire to themselves immortal honour."
On the 5th day after their landing, the British attacked the Americans on Long Island, commanded by Gen. Sulli
The variety of ground and the different parties employed in different places, both in the attack and defence, occasioned a succession of small engagements, pursuits, and slaughter, which lasted for many hours.
The Americans were defeated in all directions. The circumstances which eminently contributed to this, were the superior discipline of the assailants, and the want of early intelligence of their movements. There was not a single corps of cavalry in the American army. The trans. mission of intelligence was of course always slow, and often impracticable. From the want of it, some of their detachments, while retreating before one portion of the enemy, were advancing toward another, of whose movements, they were ignorant.
In the height of the engagement Washington passed over to Long Island, and with infinite regret saw the slaughter of his best troops, but had not the power to prevent it ; for had he drawn his whole force to their support, he must have risked every thing on a single engagement. He adopted the wiser plan of evacuating the island, with all the forces he could bring off. In superintending this necessary, but difficult and dangerous movement, and the events of the preceeding day, Washington was indefatigable. For forty eight hours he never closed his eyes, and was almost constantly on horseback. In less than thirteen hours, the field artillery, tents, baggage, and about nine thousand men, were conveyed from Long Island to the city of New York, over East River, and without the knowledge of the British, though not six hundred yards distant. The darkness of the night and a heavy fog in the morning, together with a fair wind after midnight, favoured this retreat. It was completed without interruption some time after the dawning of the day.
The unsuccessful termination of the late action, led to consequences more seriously alarming to the Americans, than the loss of their men. Hitherto they had had such confidence in the mselves, as engaged in the cause of liberty and their country, that it outweighed all their apprehensions from the exact discipline of British troops ; but now finding that many of them had been encircled in inextricable difficulties from the superior military skill of their adversaries, they went to the opposite extreme, and began to think but very indifferently of themselves and their leaders, when opposed to disciplined troops. As often as they saw the enemy approaching, they suspected a military maneuvre from which they supposed nothing could save them but immediate flight. Apprehensions of this kind might naturally be expected from citizen soldiers, lately taken from agricultural pursuits, who expected to lay aside the military character at the end of the current year. Washington, tremblingly alive to the state of his army, wrote to Congress on the sixth day after the defeat on Long Island, as follows; “ Our situation is truly distressing. The check our detachment lately sustained has dispirited too great a proportion of our troops, and filled their minds with apprehension and despair. The militia, instead of calling forth their utmost efforts to a brave and manly opposition in order to repair our losses, are dismayed, intractable, and impatient to return. Great numbers of them have gone off ; in some instances, almost by whole regiments, in many by half ones, and by companies at a time. This circumstance of itself, independent of others, when fronted by a well appointed enemy, superior in number to our whole collected force, would be sufficiently disagreeable ; but when it is added, that their example has infected another part of the army; that their want of discipline and refusal of almost every kind of restraint and government, have rendered a like conduct but too coinmon in the whole, and have produced an entire disregard of that order and subordination which is necessary for an army, our condition is still more alarming; and with the deepest concern I am obliged to confess my want of confidence in the generality of the troops. All these circumstances fully confirm the opinion I ever entertained, and which I more than once in my letters took the liberty of mentioning to Congress, that no dependence