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1778 Lee having also ordered to the right the three regiments
in Wayne's detachment, Wesson's, Stewart's and Living fton's, rode toward Oswald's artillery and reconnoitred the enemy, who appeared in full view marching back again toward the Court-house, and in greater numbers than was expected, so that Lee said, he believed he was mistaken in their strength. .. T i i.
Let us now advert to the manoeuvres of Sir Henry Clinton. Soon after he had begun with his column to follow gen. Knyphausen, reconnoitring parties of the Jersey militia appeared on his left flank. The queen's rangers fell in with,' and dispersed some detachments among the woods in the fame quarter. His rear guard having descended from the heights above Freehold into the plain, fome American columns appeared likewise defcendirig into it, and began the cannonade on his rear, which was returned by a fuperior fire. At this instant, intelligence was brought to Sir Henry, that the enemy were discovered marching in force on both his fanks. He conjectured, that the object of the Americans was the baggage, which at that juncture was engaged in defiles that continued for miles. He conceived that the only means of parrying the apprehended' blow was by facing about, attacking the corps which haraffed his rear, and pressing it fo hard, as to oblige the detachments to return from his flanks to its affiftance. Thinking that the meafure might possibly draw on a general action, he fent for a brigade of British, and the 17th light dragoons from Knyphausen’s division, and at the fame time gave directions, that on their arrival they should take a position for covering his right flank. He then made a
3. . :: disposition
disposition and advanced in a direction toward the right 1778. of the American's.''
This happened while Lee was reconnoitring. The American column to the left of him under gën. Scott, quitted the wood, crossed a morafs, 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 be: tween the latter and the troops with Lee. These were át 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 disčernment led him immediately to fend 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 posible 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 twothirds of Lee's whole command, and though the enemy appeared to bend their courfe from the left to the right of the Americans. Under fuch åpprehension, Scott re:croffed the morafs, 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 had raken
1778. place: upon their coming to Lee, and communicating
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 retreat to the Court-house. A general retreat now commenced on the right, till the troops reached Freehold and a neighbouring wood. When these were quitted, the British pursued as far as the village, where they halted. Mean while the Americans marched on and passed the next morass in front of Carr's house, about half a mile from the village. The retreats and advances which took place were attended with cannonadings on each side. The halt of the British, on account of the intense heat of the weather, and their having fuffered severely, from fatigue, admitted of the Americans halting also for a considerable space, which heat and fatigue had rendered equally necessary for them. But upon the advance of the British from Freehold, and Lee's discerning that the position he at first meant to occupy with the design of receiving the enemy and baffling their attack, was not suitable; the whole of 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 morals they had crossed in the morning, which had been pointed
out to him as a desirable and proper spot. Before they i had wholly left the ground about Carr's house, the Bri
tish cavalry made a sudden 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 1778. upon it. ,. .. . . . ."
Soon after Lee with his columns issued out of the woods below the Court-house into the plain, gen. Walha ington was advancing with the main body of the army between English-town and Freehold meeting. Expecting from the information brought him, that the 'van of Lee's command and the rear of the British would ere. long engage, he ordered the right wing undergen.. Greene to go to the right to prevent the enemy's turning his 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 countryman, that the continental troops were retreating. Though the account was cono firmed by two or three persons whom he met on the road, after moving a few paces forward, yet he appeared to discredit it, having not 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 fall ing back upon the main body, without the least notice given him. He desired one of the retreating colonels to march his men over the morass, halt them on the eminence, and refresh them. Seeing Lee at the head of the next column, he rode up to him with a degree of astonishment and indignation, and proposed certain questions that implied censure. Lee felt it, and anVOL. III.
1778. swered with warmțh and unsuitable language. Hard and
irritating words passed between them for a short space,