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of the conduct and language of their delegates ;' and the issue of the conference, was beneficial to the general cause. The firmness of the leaders of the revolution was tried and found immovable. The final concessions of the British were made, and instantly rejected, as totally inadequate to the universal demands of the country in the most disheartening circumstances. The magnanimous determination, not . to negotiate for worse terms after defeat, than had been de. manded before the battle, raised the moral character of the contest and of the actors, and infused a loftier spirit into the public councils..
In the month of October, the military affairs of the States assumed a still more gloomy aspect, from the increase of the British force, by the arrival of the additional Hessian regiments. The army of Howe then amounted to about thirtyseven thousand men, and he soon after resolved upon more active measures to compel the Americans to abandon their fortified camp. He prudently determined not to try an assault upon their position; but having by means of his feet, and his great superiority in numbers, the command of both rivers, he adopted the plan of transporting part of his army above Kingsbridge and forming an encampment in the rear of the American lines. Had this plan succeeded, Washington would have been completely cut off from all communication with the country, and forced to fight a general battle at an immense disadvantage. Having fortified Gowan's hill, and left a strong force, consisting of English and Hessian troops, under the command of Lord Percy, for the defence of New York, Howe dispatched three frigates up the North river, to interrupt the American communications with New Jersey. They forced their way without much injury, past the American forts Lee and Washington, and without impediment from the cheveaux-de-frise that had been sunk in the river. The great body of his troops were then embarked in flat bottom boats, on the East river, and passing through to Hurlgate were landed at Throgg's Neck, in Westchester county, near the village of Westchester. He delayed there till the 18th, in recruiting his troops, and repairing the .. roads and bridges, which had been broken up by the Americans.i. This movement produced an immediate change in the position" of the American army. General Lee had arrived in the camp, and at a council of war, held on the 16th, he urged the evac. uation of the whole island at once, and the retreat of the ini army to Westchester. Lee also advised the evacuation of Fort Washington, and Washington was inclined to the same opinion ; but the advice of General Greene prevailed, and it was determined to leave that garrison, consisting of three thousand men, to withstand and retard the operations of the enemy, and aid, in conjunction with Fort Lee, on the Jersey side, in keeping the navigation of the river open for the transportation of supplies. With the exception of these forts, the whole force was accordingly withdrawn from the island of New York, and extended along the North river, towards White Plains, its left always reaching beyond the British right. During this change, Washington continually presented a front to the enemy, who had commenced their advance towards New Rochelle, on the 18th, thus protecting his rear, along which the sick, the baggage, cannon, ammunition, and stores, were transported in comparative safety.
His line then presented a chain of small, entrenched and unconnected camps, occupying successively every heigh! and rising ground, from Valentine's Hill, about a mile from Kingsbridge, on the right, extending almost to White Plains on the left.
Numerous skirmishes took place, between small parties of the troops, until the 25th, on which day General Howe advanced his whole force, taking a strong position on Oct. 28.
the river Bronx, and made demonstrations of a
| design to attack the American camp. He threw forward a large corps of English and Hessians under General Leslie, and Colonels Donop, and Rahl, to drive a force of sixteen hundred men under General McDougal, from a commanding eminence on the opposite side of the river, and thus open a way for an assault on the centre and right of the main body. The defence was maintained with great spirit, but finally the American were overpowered and driven in with great loss. The day was however so far spent in the struggle, that General Howe could not follow up the attack. He kept his army under arms in front of the American lines, ready to renew the fight in the morning. Dur. ing the night Washington changed his front, his left keeping their post, while the right fell back, and entrenched themselves on a range of hills, in a position too strong to be assailed. The British general thought it necessary to wait for a reinforcement from New York, before he prosecuted his march, and drew off his forces towards Dobb's Ferry...
A heavy rain which fell a day or two afterwards, further postponed his designs. On the first of November, he had made his preparations for an attack, aiming evidently to secure the high grounds in the American rear. But the night previous, Washington, who had anticipated this movement, secured his baggage and stores, and suddenly changed his camp again, taking up a very strong ground at North Castle, about five miles from White Plains. On the following morning the English took possession of the American camp; and finding it impossible to force the Americans to fight a general battle, except upon the most unequal terms, General Howe, a few days afterwards, discontinued his
pursuit, and turned his forces against the fortressess still in the occupation of the Americans in the neighbourhood of New York. The principal of these was Fort Washington, on the New York side of the North river, against which the first efforts were directed. The fate of this post was looked to with great anxiety by General Washington. To General Greene, to whom the command of that portion of the army had been committed, he gave discretionary powers, advising him to evacuate the fort in case he should find it not in a situation to sustain an assault. Greene thought the fort tenable, and retreat to the opposite bank of the river, to Fort Lee, practicable, in case of extremity, and determined to sustain the attack. The anxiety of Washington increased, and leaving General Lee in command of the eastern militia, on the left bank of the Hudson, and securing the strong positions at Peekskill and on Croton river, he crossed to New Jersey with the main body of the army, and went to join the camp of General Greene at Fort Lee. He called
governor of New Jersey to hold the militia in readiness, and directed the removal of the stores and heavy baggage to a safe distance. These precautions were hardly taken, before the English army was concentrated towards the fort, and on the 15th, it was invested, and the garrison, under the command of Colonel Magaw, summoned to surrender. On his refusal, with a declaration of his resolution to resist to the last extremity, the besiegers proceeded to the assault in four divisions. The first in the north was commanded by General Kniphausen, and was composed of Hessians; the second, on the eastern side, was made by two battalions of guards, supported by Lord Cornwallis, with a body of grenadiers and the thirty-third regiment. These
two parties crossed Hærlem creek, in boats, and landed on the American right. The third attack, meant as á feint, was conducted by Lieutenant Colonel Stirling, with the forty second. The fourth division was under Lord Percy, with his reinforcements from the south of the island. Each party was supported by a powerful and well served artillery.
Soon after daybreak the next morning the firing commenced, and continued during a great part of the day. The Hessian division, moving down from Kingsbridge, penetrated in two columns, the first of which ascended the hill circuitously, and having forced the American outworks, formed within a hundred yards of the covered way in front. The other column climbed the hill in a direct line, through a wood, occupied by Colonel Rawling's regiment of riflemen, and after hard fighting and some severe repulses, drove in the American defenders into the fort. Lord Percy assaulted the works on the south, and while he was engaged with the first line of defence, the third division had succeeded in forcing a landing against a heavy cannonading, and penetrated with great difficulty against an obstinate defence, into the second line, thus intercepting the American force, and making numerous prisoners. On all sides the American outworks were forced, and the whole garrison driven within the walls of the fort, or under the guns. The British general ågain summoned Colonel Magaw to surrender. Finding the post no longer tenable against such a superior force, he surrendered himself and the garrison prisoners of war, and gave úp the Fort. The number of prisoners was stated by Washington in his offical account at 2000. The British account made it 2600. The difference is accounted for on the supposition that Washington only included the regular troops. Much censure was cast upon the Commandant for his mode of defence, and his precipitation in yielding. Notice was sent him by Washington to hold out until evening, when measures would be taken to bring him off, but the negotia. tions had proceeded too far to allow of retracting, had the situation of the garrison tendered it possible. The American general has also been censured, for not ordering the eva cuation of the Fort; as soon as it had been rendered useless by the occupation of the country above by the enemy. The error in Washington was not in misunderstanding the proper military movements, but in allowing his own judgment to be overruled by others. He was opposed to the
plan of maintaining the fort, recommended to the council of war, and carried by Greene, but yielded to the majority.
The immediate abandonment of Fort Lee became necessary, and orders were issued for the removal of the stores and ammunition. But Lord Cornwallis crossed the river above so promptly with a large force amounting to 6000 | Nu
Nov. 18. men, that an instant retreat was ordered, with the
loss of stores, ammunition, tents, and camp equipage, to a $ very large amount. The Americans retired precipitately
behind the Hackensack river, with daily diminishing forces. The losses at Forts Washington and Lee had had a most disheartening effect, and the troops deserted or abandoned their commander, in large numbers daily. Not more than
three thousand could be mustered on commencing the re: treat through Jersey, and they were miserably clothed, des
titute of provisions, pay, tents, ammunition, and of the greater number the term of service was nearly up, and no persuasions could prevail upon them to re-enlist. The troops of
the Northern army under General Schuyler were ordered to [ join, but the term of service expired before they reached
the encampment, and few remained. Earnest calls were
made on the States for quotas of militia, but ineffectually. - General Armstrong was dispatched to the interior of Pennsyl
vania, General Mifflin to Philadelphia, and Colonel Read to the interior of New Jersey, to procure reinforcements, and per
emptory and repeated orders were dispatched to Gen. Lee, 3 who had been left in New York, to cross the Hudson and
join Washington with his troops. He delayed obeying, and at last, after entering New Jersey, carelessly taking up his quarters at a distance from his soldiers, he was surprised and taken prisoner by a party of British dragoons. This however did not take place till the 13th of December, after Washington had crossed the Delaware, where General Sullivan led the detachment to join the Commander-in-chief.'
The retreat through the Jerseys to the crossing of the Delaware was the most disastrous period of the war. A scanty, destitute, desponding and diminishing force, scarcely amounting to three thousand at the highest, was pushed by a triumphant, well disciplined, and abundantly supplied army of thirty thousand. As the British advanced, the Americans retreated towards the Delaware, occasionally making a stand to show a front to the enemy and retard his advance. It frequently happened, that as the rear of the Americans