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- RISE, PROGRESS, AND CONCLUSION
NORTH AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
L E T T E R Í.
Roxbury, Jan. 29, 1778. . MY DEAR SIR, THE military operations in Pennsylvania, are to be 1777
1 the subjects of our immediate attention.' About a fortnight after the German-town battle on the 19th of October, the royal army under the command of Sir William Howe removed to Philadelphia.
Measures being concerted between the general and admiral for clearing the Delaware of its obstructions, the former ordered batteries to be erected on the western or Pennsylvania shore, to alift in dinodging the Americans from Mud-island. He also detached a strong body of Hessians across the river, who were to march down and reduce the fort at Red-bank, while the ships and batteries on the other side. were to attack Mud-isand. Count Donop commanded the detachment, consisting of three battalions of grenadiers, and the regiment of Mirback, beside light infantry and chasseurs. The Ame... VOL. III.
1777. ricans were about 400 under col. Christopher Greene of Oct. Rhode Idand. When near enough, the count fent a
Aag and demanded a surrender of the fort in the most
off. The Augiifta while" engaged took fire, and the 1777. Merlin-was hastily evacuated. The greater part of the officers and crew of the Augusta were saved; but the second lieutenant, chaplain, gunner, and no inconfiderable number of the common men perished. Notwith standing this ill success, the British commanders prosecuted with vigor the bütnefs of opening the navigation. Nor were the Americans idle; for they left nothing undone to strengthen their défences.. .
General Washington gave the following state of his 290 army,-- Our whole force by the last returns is 8313 continental troops; and 2717 militia, rank and file, fit for duty: beside the garrison of Mud-island amounting to 300 continentals, of Red-bank 350, and a detachment of militia (on the 26th to reinforce it) 300; and che troops on the other side of Schuylkill 500, making together 1450.” Thus it appears, that his whole strength was 12,480 men. Sir W. Howe's probably amounted to more than 10,000 ránk and file, present and fit for duty. It had received no increase worth mentioning from among the inhabitants of Pennsylvania or the neighbouring statės, though large promises had been made (by some sanguine gentlemen who had joined him) that thousands of loyal subjects would repair to the royal standard as foon as it should make its appearance in Pennsylvania, The American commander in chief certainly supposed, that general Howe's force exceeded his own in number, for, on the 13th of November, he wrote, -- The army which I have had under my imniediate command has not, at any one time since gen. Howe's landing at the héad of Elk; been equal in point of numbers to his. In ascertaining this, I do not confine myself to conti'. B2: . .. ?
1777. nental troops, but comprehend militia. I was left to
fight two battles, in order if possible to save Philadelphia, with less numbers than composed the army of my antagonist, whilst the world has given us at least double. This, though mortifying in some points of view, I have been obliged to encourage ; because next to being strong, it is best to be thought so by the enemy, and; to this cause principally, I think, is to be attributed the now movements of Howe.” The case was different in the northern department. There the states of New York and New England resolving to crush Burgoyne, continued pouring in their troops till the surrender of his army. Had the same spirit pervaded the people of Pennsylvania and the neighbouring states, Washington might, before the date of his letter, had Howe nearly in the fame situation with Burgoyne. The Pennsylvania militia were said to be 30,000, but about 3000 was the highest number brought into the field. In the estimation of fome New England gentlemen, “the peasants of
that country are extremely ignorant and brutish. They - are a mixture of high and low Dutch, and so exceeding
illiterate, that few of them can read, and scarce any can write. They have no other ideas of liberty or Navery, than as it affects their property; and it is immaterial to them, whether Great Britain or America prevails, so that they may be exempted from paying their proportion of the expences of the war. Ignorance is the high road to slavery." .
While the British were entirely occupied in possessing the city of Philadelphia, gen. Washington sent off lieut. col. Samuel Smith of the Maryland line, with 200 men, who were to proceed and possess themselves of Mud-island.
By quick marches he arrived with his party at the lower 1777. ferry, and with difficulty threw himself into the fort, which he found in a wretched condition, without ammunition, provision or stores, garrisoned by about thirty militia. He had with him two excellent officers of artillery, to whom he assigned fifty of his best men, who were trained to the guns. . The colonel, with commodore Hazlewood and capt. Robinson, a brave naval officer, visited Province-island, principally under water, the banks having been cut by order. The colone! pointed out two dry places, where the enemy might erect works, the nearest about 4 or 500 yards from that side of the American works where the defences were only palisades, one gun and two weak block-houses. With great labor he undertook to erect a two gun battery without the fort, so as to make a cross fire on the spot. He had not finished, before the enemy took possession of the ground he most dreaded; but by a well directed fire from the block-house batteries and gallies, ere they had a gun ready, the Americans wounded the commander, and the party delivered themselves up prisoners. While these were removing, another party came down from the heights, and deceiving major Ballard with offers of fubmission, till too near to be prevented, repoffeffed themselves of the battery, from whence they annoyed the garrison very much. Many of the men and officers having sickened through the unhealthiness of the place, the colonel was reinforced by the first Virginia regiment of about 120 men. The enemy. having got up part of the chevaux de Frize, brought in their shipping, and made an attack as above related. One American squadron of four gallies behaved well, the others kept aloof, the B 3