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Albany, was intended. Some movements were therefore made by Washington toward Peckskill, and on the other side toward Trenton, while the main army was encamped near the Clove, in readiness to march either to the north or south, as the movements of Sir William Howe might require.
After the British had left Sandy Hook, they looked into the Delaware, and suddenly again put out to sea, and were not heard of for near three weeks, except that once or twice they had been seen near the coast steering southwardly. Charleston, in South Carolina, was supposed to be their object at one time; at another, Philadelphia by the way of the Chesapeak; at another, the Highlands of New York, to co-operate with Burgoyne.
The perplexing uncertainty concerning the destination of the enemy which embarrassed the movements of Washinglon, was not done away before the middle of August, when certain accounts were received that the British bad taken possession of the Chesapeak, and landed as near to Philadelphia as was practicable. While the object of the campaign was doubtful, every disposition was made to defend all the supposed probable points of attack except Charleston. This being at the distance of seven or eight hundred miles, could not be assisted by an army marching over land, in time to oppose the enemy conveyed thither by water. While this idea prevailed, arrangements were made to employ the American army either against the enemy advancing from Albany, or against the British posts in New York, with the hope of making reparation for the expected loss of Charleston. As soon as the arrival of the British in the Chesapeak was known, Washington or dered the different divisions of his army to unite in the neighbourhood of Philadelphia, toward the head of Elk; and the militia of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the northern counties of Virginia, to take the field. He had previously written very pressing letters to the Governors of the eastern states, and to the Generals in the western parts of these states, to strengthen the northern army opposed to Burgoyne; and even weakened himself by detaching some of his best troops, particularly Morgan's riflemen, on that important service. In the spirit of true patriotism, he diminished his own chances of acquiring fame, that the com.
mon cause might be most effectually promoted by the best disposition of the forces under his command, for simultaneous opposition to both Howe and Burgoyne.
Washington passed his army with every appearance of confidence through the city of Philadelphia, with a view of making some impression on the disaffected of that city, and aft ward proceeded toward the head of Elk About the same time he directed Gen. Smallwood, with the militia of Maryland and Delaware, and some continental troops, to hang on the rear of the enemy. As a substitute for Morgan's riflemen, Gen. Maxwell was furnished with a corps of light infantry, amounting to one thousand men, and directed to annoy the r ritish on their inarch through the country. These troops were afterward reinforced with .Gen. Wayne's division. Though the militiü did not turn out with that alacrity which might have been expected from the energetic calls of Washington, yet a respectable force was assembled, which imposed on Sir William Howe a necessity of proceeding with caution. the royal army set out from the eastern heads of the Chesapeak on the third of September, with a spirit which promised to compensate for the various delays which had hitherto wasted the campaign. hey advanced with great circumspection and boldness till they were within two miles of the American army, which was then posted in the vicinity of New Port Washington soon changed his ground, and took post on the high ground near Chadd's Ford, on the brandy wine creek, with an intention of disputing the passage.
It was the wish, but by no means the interest, of the Americans, to try their strength in an engagement. Their regular troops were not only inferior in discipline, but in numbers to the royal army. The opinion of the inhabitants, though founded on no circumstances more substantial than their wishes, imposed a species of necessity on the American General to keep his army in front of the enemy, and to risk an action for the security of Philadelphia. Instead of this, had he taken the ridge of high mountains on his right the British must have respected his numbers, and probably would have followed him up the country. in this manner the campaign might have been wasted away in a manner fatal to the invaders; but the bulk of the American people were so impatient of delays, and had such an overweening conceit of the number and prowess of their army, that they could not comprehend the wisdom and policy of manæuvres to shun a general engagement.
On this occasion necessity dictated that a sacrifice should be made on the altar of public opinion. A general action was therefore hazarded. This took place at Chadd's Ford, on the Brandywine, a small stream which empties itself into Christiana creek, near its conflux with the river Dela.
The royal army advanced at day break in two columns commanded by Lieutenant General Kniphausen and Lord Cornwallis. They first took the direct road to Chadd's Ford, and made a show of passing it, in front of the main body of the Americans. At the same time the other column moved up on the west side of the Brandy wine to its fork, and crossed both its branches, and then marched down on the east side thereof, with the view of turning the right wing of their adversaries.
This they effected, and compelled them to retreat with great loss. Gen. Kniphausen amused the Americans with the appearance of crossing the Ford, but did not attempt it until Lord Cornwallis, having crossed above and moved down on the opposite side, had commenced his attack. Kniphausen then crossed the Ford and attacked the troops posted for its defence. These, after a severe conflict, were compelled to give way The retreat of the Americans soon became general, and was continued to Chester. Their loss was about nine hundred, and considerably ex. ceeded that of the British. The final issue of battles often depends on small circumstances, which human prudence cannot control. One of these occurred here, and prevented Gen. Washington from executing a bold design, to effect which his troops were actually in motion.
This was to cross the Brandy wine, and attack Kniphausen, while Gen. Sullivan and Lord Stirling should keep Earl Cornwallis in check. In the most critical moment Washington received intelligence which he was obliged to credit, that the column of Lord Cornwallis had been only making a feint, and was returning to join Kniphausen. This prevented the execution of a plan, which, if carried into effect, would probably have given a different turn to the events of the day.
Washington made every exertion to repair the loss which had been sustained. The battle of Brandywine was represented as not being decisive. Congress and the people wished to hazard a second engagement, for the security of Philadelphia. Howe sought for it, and Washington did not decline it. He therefore advanced as far as the Warren tavern, on the Lancaster road, with an intention of meeting his adversary. Near that place both armies were on the point of engaging with their whole force; but were prevented by a most violent storm of rain, which continued for a whole day and night. When the rain ceased, the Americans found that their ammunition was entirely ruined.... They therefore withdrew to a place of safety. Before a proper supply was procured, the British marched from their position near the White Horse tavern, down toward the Swedes Ford. The Americans again took post in their front, but the British, instead of urging an action, began to march up toward Reading. To save the stores which had been deposited in that place, Washington took a new position, and left the British in undisturbed possession of the roads which lead to Philadelphia. His troops were worn down with a succession of severe duties. There were in his army above a thousand men who were barefooted, and who had performed all their late movements in that condi. tion.
Though Washington had failed in his object of saving Philadelphia, yet he retained the confidence of Congress and the States. With an army inferior in numbers, disci. pline, and equipments, he delayed the British army thirty days in advancing sixty miles through an open country, without fortifications, and the waters of which were every where fordable. Though defeated in one general action, he kept together his undisciplined and unprovided arny, and in less than a week offered battle to his successful adversary. When this was prevented by a storm of rain which ruined his ammunition, while many of his soldiers were without bayonets, he extricated them from the most imminent danger, and maintained a respectable standing... Instead of immediately retiring into winter quarters, he approached the enemy and encamped on the Skippack road. The British arıny took their stand in Philadelphia and Germantown, shortly after the battle of Brandywine. From
these positions, especially the last, considerable detachments were sent to Chester and the vicinity, to favour an attempt to open the navigation of the river Delaware, which had been obstructed with great ingenuity and industry by The Americans.
About the same time the American army received a reinforcement of two thousand five hundred men, which increased its effective force to eleven thousand.
General Washington conceived that the present moment furnished a fair opportunity for enterprise. He therefore resolved to attack the British in Germantown. Their line of encampment crossed that village at right angles; the left wing extending on the west of the Schuylkill. That wing was covered in front and flank by the German chasseurs. A battalian of light infantry, and the queen's American ranger's were in front of the right. The 40th regiment, with another battalion of infantry, was posted at the head of the village. The Americans moved from their encampment on the Skippack road in the evening of the third of October, with the intention of surprising their adversaries early next morning, and to attack both wings in front and rear at the same time, so as to prevent the several parts from supporting each other. The divisions of Greene and Stevens, flanked by M.Dougal's brigade, were to enter by the limekiln road. The militia of Maryland and Jersey, under Generals Smallwood and Furman, were to march by the old York road, and to fall upon the rear of their right.
Lord Stirling, with Nashe's and Maxwell's brigade, were to form a corps de reserve. The Americans began their attack about sunrise, on the 40th regiment and a battalion of light infantry. These being obliged to retreat, were pursued into the village. On their retreat, Lieut. Col. Musgrave, with six companies, took post in Mr. Chew's strong stone house, which lay in front of the Americans. From an adherence to the military maxim of never leaving a fort possessed by an enemy in the rear, it was resolved to attack the party in the house.
In the mean time Gen. Greene got up with his column, and attacked the right wing. Col. Ma:hews routed a party of the British opposed to him, killed several and took one hundred and ten prisoners; but, from the darkness of the