« ForrigeFortsett »
Into Pennsylvania with his prisoners. These being secured, he recrossed the Delaware, and took possession of Trenton. The detachments which had been distributed over New Jersey, previous to the capture of the Hessians, immediately after that event assembled at Princeton, and were joined by the army from Brunswick under lord Cornwallis. From this position, they came forward to Trenton in great force hoping, by a vigorous onset, to repair the injury which their cause had sustained by the late defeat.
Truly delicate, was the situation of the feeble American army. To retreat, was to hazard the city of Philadelphia, and to destroy every ray of hope which began to dawn from their late success. To risk an action with a superior force in front, and a river in their rear, was dangerous in the extreme. To get round the advanced party of the British, and by pushing forwards to attack in their rear, was deemed preferable to either. The British, on their advance from Princeton, attacked a body of Americans which were posted with four field-pieces a little to the northward of Trenton, and compelled them to retreat. The pursuing British, being checked at the bridge over Assanpinck creek by some fieldpieces, fell back so far as to be out of their reach. The Americans were drawn up on the opposite side of the creek, and in that posicion remained until night, cannonading the enemy, and receiving their fire. In this critical hour, two armies, on which the success or failure of the American revalution materially depended, were crowded into the small village of Trenton; and separated only by a creek in many places fordable.
The British, believing they had all the advantages that they could desire, and that they could use them when they pleased, discontinued all further operations, and kept themselves in readiness to make the attack next morning. But the next morning presented a scene, as brilliant on the one side, as it was unexpected on the other. Soon after it be came dark, Washington ordered all his baggage to be silently removed, and, having left guards for the purpose of deception, marched, with his whole force, by a circuitous route, to Princeton.--This maneuvre was determined upon in a council of war, from a conviction that it would avoid the appearance of a retreat, and at the same time the hazard of an action in a bad position ; and that it was the most likely
way to preserve the city of Philadelphia from falling into the hands of the British. Washington also presumed, that, from an eagerness to efface the impressions made by the late capture of the Hessians at Trenton, the British commanders had pushed forward their principal force, and that the remainder in the rear at Princeton, was not more than equal to his own.—The event verified this conjecture. The more effectually to disguise the departure of the Americans from Trenton, fires were lighted in front of their camp. These not only gave an appearance of going to rest, but, as flame cannot be seen through, concealed from the British what was transacting behind them. In this relative position, they were a pillar of fire to the one army, and a pillar of cloud to the other.- Providence favoured this movement of the Ameri
The weather had been for some time so warm and moist, that the ground was soft and the roads so deep, as to be scarcely passable ; but the wind suddenly changed to the northwest, and the ground in a short time was frozen so hard, that, when the Americans took up their line of march, they were no more retarded than if they had been upon a solid pavement.
Washington reached Princeton early in the morning, and would have completely surprised the British, had not a party, which was on their way to Trenton, descried his troops when they were about two miles distant, and sent back couriers to alarm their unsuspecting sellow-soldiers in their
These consisted of the 17th, the 40th, and 55th regiments of British infantry, and some of the royal artillery with two field-pieces, and three troops of light dragoons. The centre of the Americans, consisting of the Philadelphia militia, while on their line of march, was briskly charged by a party of the British, and gave way in disorder.— The moment was critical. Washington pushed forward, and placed himself between his own men and the British, with his horse's head fronting the latter. The Americans, encouraged by his example and exhortations, made a stand, and returned the British fire. The general, though between both parties, was providentially uninjured by either. A party of the British fled into the college, and were there attacked with field-pieces, which were fired into it.— The seat of the muses became for some time the scene of action. The party which had taken refuge in the college, after receiving a few dis
55 charges from the Armerican field-pieces, came out and sur rendered themselves prisoners of war. In the course of the engagement, sixty of the British were killed, and a great number wounded, and about three hundred of them taken prisoners. The rest made their escape, some by pushing on to Trenton; others by returning to Brunswick.
While they were fighting in Princeton, the British in Trenton were under arms, and on the point of making an assault on the evacuated camp of the Americans. With so much address had the movement to Princeton been con ducted, that though, from the critical situation of the two armies, every ear may be supposed to have been open, and every watchfulness to have been employed, yet Washington moved completely off the ground, with his whole force, stores, baggage, and artillery, without the knowledge of, and unsuspected by, his adversaries. The British in Trenton were so entirely deceived, that, when they heard the report of the artillery at Princeton, though it was in the depth of winter, they supposed it to be thunder.
Astonished at these bold movements of an enemy thought to be vanquished, the British instantly fell back with their whole force, and abandoned every post held by them to the southward of New York, except Brunswick and Amboy.
CAMPAIGN OF 1777. Operations of General Washington, in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, in the campaign of 1777. The battles of Brandywine and Germantown. Washington is advised by the Rev. Jacob Duche, to give up the contest. The distresses of the American army. Its winter quar ters at Valley Forge. General Washington is assailed by the clamours of discontented individuals and public bodies, and by the designs of a faction to supersede him in his office as commander-in-chief.
The victories at Trenton and Princeton produced the most extensive effects, and had a decided influence on subsequent qvents. Philadelphia was saved for that winter. New
Jersey was recovered. The drooping spirits of the Americans were revived. The gloomy apprehensions which had lately prevailed, of their being engaged in a hopeless cause, yielded to a confidence in their general and their army, and in the ultimate success of their struggles for liberty and independence. So strong an impulse was given to the recruiting service in every part of the United States, as gave good ground to hope, that the commander-in-chief would be enabled to take the field in the spring, with a permanent regular army, on the new terms of enlistment.
After the campaign had been thus carried into the month of January, Washington retired to Morristown, that he might afford shelter to his suffering army. His situation there was far from being eligible. His force, for some considerable time, was trifling, when compared with that of the British; but the enemy and his own countrymen believed the contrary. Their deception was cherished and artfully continued by the parade of a large army. Washington placed his officers in positions of difficult access, and they kept up a constant communication with each other. This secured them from insult and surprise. While they covered the country, they harrassed the foraging parties of the British, and confined them to narrow limits.
The remainder of the winter-season passed over in a ligh: war of skirmishes ; generally in favour of the Americans. But Washington's views were much more extensive. He hoped that his country, encouraged by the late successes af Trenton and Princeton, would have placed at his disposal a large and efficient army, equal to that of the enemy. To obtain it, he urged with great earnestness the advantage of being enabled to undertake decisive operations before reinforcements to the British should arrive.-Congress, at his desire, passed the requisite resolutions, but these could not be carried into effect, without the aid of the state legislatures. The delays incident to this slow mode of doing business, added to the recollection of the suffering of the troops in the last campaign, retarded the recruiting service; ad Washington, with infinite reluctance, was obliged to give up his favourite project of an early active campaign.
In the advance of the spring, when recruits were obtained, a difficulty arose in assembling them from the different states in which they had been enlisted. As the British had possession
of the ocean, they could at pleasure transfer the war to any maritime portion of the union. Each state, anxious for its particular safety, claimed protection from the common army of the whole. Had they been indulged, the feeble remnant under the immediate direction of the commander-in-chief, would have been unequal to any great enterprise.To these partial calls, he opposed all his authority and influence; and his pointed representations made an impression in favour of primary objects. These were to prevent the British from getting possession of Philadelphia, or the highlands on the Hudson. Both were of so nearly equal importance to their interest, that it was impossible to ascertain which would be preferred by sir William Howe. In this uncertainty, Washington made such an arrangement of his troops, as would enable him to oppose either. The northern troops were divided between Ticonderoga and Peekskill; while those from New Jersey and the south were encamped at Middlebrook, near the Rariton. The American force, collected at this strong and defensible encampment, was nominally between nine and ten thousand men ; but the effective rank and file was about six thousand. A majority of these were raw recruits ; and a considerable number of such as had been enlisted in the middle states, were foreigners or ser, vants.—To encourage the desertion of troops so slightly attached to the American cause, general Howe offered a reward to every soldier, who would come over to his army, and an additional compensation to such as would bring with them their arms. To counteract these propositions, Washington recommended to congress to give full pardon to all Americans who would relinquish the British service.
The campaign opened early in June on the part of the British, who advanced towards Philadelphia as far as Somer set county in New Jersey ; but they soon fell back to New Brunswick. After this retreat, sir William Howe endean voured to provoke Washington to an engagement, and left no maneuvre untried, that was calculated to induce him to quit his position. At one time, he appeared as if he intended to push on, without regarding the army opposed to him. At another, he accurately examined the situation of the American encampment, hoping that some unguarded part might be found, on which might be made an attack that would open the way to a general engagement.--All theso